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An interview for an entry-level job or internship often includes general questions that help the hiring manager understand what motivated you to apply for the job. Preparing in advance for questions such as “What do you hope to gain from this experience?” can help you eloquently and clearly describe your professional goals. Evaluating your career goals and determining how they align with the job is a good way to plan your answer to this question. In this article, we discuss some ways to explain what you expect from a new position.
Related: How to Dress for a Job Interview
Why employers ask, “What do you hope to gain from this experience?”
In order to distinguish you from other entry-level or internship job applicants, a prospective employer may try to find out what you expect from the available job. Your answers can help the interviewer know if you and the company are a good match so you can gain on-the-job training and experience.
When you are first entering the job market, either for your first permanent position or as an intern, thoughtful answers to interview questions can sometimes provide a better indication of your career potential than your resume. Without job experience to talk about, an interviewer may be interested in learning about your career goals both for the position you are applying for and for the long-term. When your goals align with the work and the company’s mission statement, you are likely to be a more promising candidate.
In addition to listening to your response, the interviewer is also likely to evaluate your poise and confidence when discussing your hopes for the position.
Related: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Job Interview
How to answer, “What do you hope to gain from this experience?”
Your interview with a prospective employer is a way for the hiring manager to evaluate the kinds of hopes and outcomes you want from your position. Here are some steps you can follow to prepare an answer that can help you explain yourself clearly:
1. Explain what first interested you about the job.
When you demonstrate a thorough understanding of the job and its responsibilities, you show the hiring manager you have applied thoughtfully and learned as much as you could before the interview. Use specific language from the posted job description and describe what was interesting or exciting to you.
2. Discuss your motivation
You may describe why you think this job at this company could help you develop certain skills or is a good example of the kind of working environment you think fits your style. For example, if you are interviewing for a position at a social media marketing firm, you might talk about aspects of the company’s social media strategy you admire and explain why you think that approach is something you can learn from. You could also sincerely talk about any managers or employees who have won awards you respect and talk about how the company’s mission statement and culture match your own personal values.
3. Describe how the position aligns with your career goals
Expressing ambition and motivation for a successful career can show your enthusiasm and willingness to work hard. When applying for a position that is during or just after you have completed school, you could discuss classes or professors who helped inspire or direct you towards a certain career path and how that aligns with the work you see this company doing.
4. Be realistic and grounded in your answers
While it is important to appear excited and motivated, focus on achievable results for the finite time period of the internship or the realities of an entry-level position. For example, you can show the hiring manager your ability to make practical goals by saying, “I am interested in the ways this job can help me grow personally and professionally. I am excited to hone my collaboration skills by working with others and to have the chance to see some glimpses into my future career path.“
It can also help to discuss your willingness to grow and learn as a professional when answering this question. Even if you don’t yet have much work experience, you can impress the hiring manager by highlighting your strong work ethic instead.
Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great First Impression
Here are some examples of answers to consider when answering this interview question:
- Example 1
- Example 2
- Example 3
- Example 4
“As I considered where to apply for an internship, I contacted some former interns via my college’s guidance office. Of the five that I met with, the interns who worked at your company had only positive things to say and felt they gained the most valuable professional development experience under the staff who trained them. I hope I can also come away with the same kind of training and a clearer understanding of how this field operates.”
“I am fluent in Spanish after living in Mexico for two years. I chose to apply to your company because of its reach into South and Central America and would like to learn about how your company conducts business internationally. I am interested in pursuing a career in international business, and I believe your company is a good example of how to do it ethically and with long-term success.”
“When I was in school, I completed an internship at a large corporation. I learned a lot about how a business operates, but my experience was focused in one particular department, and I did not have much crossover into other areas. I spoke with an alumnus who worked here in the past, and she told me how much she enjoyed gaining exposure to all the parts that make a small business work. I believe that kind of work environment plays to my strengths as a flexible and cooperative person. I’m willing to do any job that is needed.”
“I have learned that one of the most valuable skills a human resources professional can have is conflict resolution. During college, I attended one of the seminars your company presented to teach effective management and intervention strategies, and I really enjoyed learning about your approach. I hope to be able to work with the developers of that course to further grow my skills for my future career in human resources.”
How to answer ‘What do you hope to gain from this position?’
Follow these steps to effectively answer ‘What do you hope to gain from this position?’:
1. Discuss your skills
Start your response by mentioning skills you hope to utilize and others you hope to develop if you were to get the job. When choosing which skills to mention, look over the job description in advance. Think about which of the skills listed you possess and which you are genuinely interested in learning. This is a great way to show that you have the right skills for the job and have a willingness to learn.
2. Incorporate a few details
Research the company to find some interesting details that make you feel eager to work for it. For instance, if you notice they have a fun-looking company culture, you could mention this in your answer. Likewise, you could mention things like the learning opportunities, company retreats, and benefits they offer. When mentioning these details, be mindful of what your values are. Saying, ‘I heard this company pays well.’ can come off as shallow. Instead, you could say, ‘I heard this company takes care of its employees and treats them fairly.’
3. Share your career goals
Mentioning your long-term career goals and how this position will help you reach them is another useful strategy. An employer wants to hire someone who is worth investing in, so show that you are interested in growing with the company. Explain that this role would be a great experience for your bigger picture goals.
4. Show your excitement
End your response with something that shows you are truly excited about this opportunity. By being upbeat and a little energetic, you can liven up the conversation and stand out among other candidates. Show that if you got the job, both you and the company would benefit.
sample answers to “What do you want to accomplish in your life?” interview question
- I just want to get the most out of the opportunities I’ve been given. To become the best version of myself. I believe that many things we cannot change–such as our genetics, or the upbringing we had–this has a huge impact on us. Also the place where we were born, whether we were lucky on good parents and role models, and so on. But once we grow up and make our choices, we get plenty of opportunities to change something to better in our own lives, and in lies of people we have contact with, be it at work or in our private life. I do not want to let these opportunities pass, without taking them.
- I just want to be happy in my life. That’s a simple definition, but it encompasses a lot of things. I want to have a healthy family, provide for the people I love, make some difference in a company where I work, stay healthy, and so on. Of course all these things demand some sacrifices, discipline, hard work. But I know that when I commit myself to my goals, I am happy making sacrifices, and doing the hard work. On the contrary, if I go to work with no other reason than to earn money, I won’t be happy…
Do not be afraid to philosophize in your interview
“What do you want to accomplish in your life?” is quite a philosophical question, and you should not hesitate answering it with a philosophical answer, pondering the meaning of life, thinking about your place in the world, etc.
You can even say that you do not dream about any achievements. As long as you base it on your personal philosophy (such as living in a present moment, see sample answer no .3), they will be satisfied with your answer. What is more, unconventional interview answers will help you stand out from the rest of the job applicants. In many cases, standing out is the most important thing in the interviews…