One of the most common interview questions you may encounter is, “What are you looking for in your next job?” It's an important question because one of the top factors in deciding which candidate to hire is who the best fit is for the role. If what you say you're looking for doesn't match the job you're interviewing for, you'll probably be out of contention.
This is a tricky question because there is no one right answer. Your answer will be as individual as you are. But that doesn’t mean that you should answer this question on the fly, without preparing a thoughtful response.
How you respond will impact how you move forward in the hiring process.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
The interviewer wants to know whether your goals are a match for the company. Your answer also allows an interviewer to see whether your skills and interests make you a good candidate for the job at hand.
They might also be trying to determine whether you’ll be a good long-term fit for the company. Are you looking for an opportunity to grow with an organization—or will your plans take you to another employer before long? For example, if you’re a Registered Nurse, and you’re interviewing at an organization that needs Nurse Managers but doesn’t hire a lot of Nurse Practitioners, telling the hiring manager that you’re hoping to use the continuing education benefit to go back to school for your NP won’t be well-received.
How to Answer "What Are You Looking For in Your Next Job?"
To answer this question successfully, consider your goals as they relate to the position. While your answer should always be honest, it should also show how you will add value to the company.
This means doing your research ahead of the job interview and learning as much as possible about the organization and the career path you might forge there. How you respond will impact how you move forward in the hiring process.
Read the company’s story on their website and social media, review their LinkedIn page, and search for recent news stories about the organization.
Then, see what you can learn about other employees at the organization. What do their LinkedIn profiles tell you about their career trajectory, skills, and goals? Think about how you fit in with the company culture and how your experience has prepared you to succeed there.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are examples of some of the best answers to questions about what you are looking for in your next role.
I'm looking for a position where I can have the opportunity to use my written communication skills. As a marketing assistant at your company, I would be able to apply my years of experience as a successful grant writer and would be able to write the kinds of materials I most enjoy working on.
Why It Works: This answer emphasizes your experience and skills and how they will benefit the company. Use your response to highlight how you fulfill requirements from the job listing.
I am hoping for a job that will allow me the chance to boost sales at an already successful company, such as your own. I am looking for the opportunity to use the skills that I have developed during my years in marketing to engage your sales force and increase productivity and international sales.
Why It Works: You’re demonstrating that you understand the organization’s specific goals and that you’re enthusiastic about helping them achieve those goals. You’re also showing that you have the skills and experience necessary to do so.
I am excited by the opportunity to work with an innovative, successful company such as your own. I look forward to utilizing the experience I have in technology to help streamline a company’s products for even more successful implementation.
Why It Works: This answer demonstrates that your experience will help the company become even more successful (while being careful not to imply that the company is unsuccessful now).
In my next job, I would like to be able to have a positive impact on my patients and to be able to help them lead a more functional and healthier lifestyle. Your facility offers patients a total recovery program, and I feel that my experience, education, and specialization would make this a good fit for me.
Why It Works: Your pre-interview research pays off in this response, demonstrating that you understand what the facility offers and that you can support their goals.
I look forward to working for a company whose mission I firmly believe in, such as your own. I look for jobs about which I am passionate because this allows me to be extremely productive and creative.
Why It Works: By focusing on the mission, you show that you understand its importance to the organization. It’s also likely that the interviewer is equally passionate about the company’s mission, which will help you connect.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
Review the Job Listing
When preparing for an interview, review the requirements of the job listing. Then, make a list of your own interests and goals, making sure to take note of any overlap.
Seeing the commonalities between the two lists will help you craft a strong response to this question.
Use this as an opportunity to show the interviewer why you're a good match for the job.
Your answer should emphasize your goals and interests as they relate to the job.
Tailor Your Answer to the Company
Your response to this question will be slightly different for every place where you interview, because it will be tailored to that specific job opening.
Frame your answer so that it shows how you will benefit the company. For example, you might explain that you want to work for a company that encourages teamwork and team projects because you thrive in a team environment. It will show the interviewer that you will do well in the company’s team-driven culture.
What Not to Say
Even though you want to show how you are a good fit for the company, you should not be dishonest. Always keep your answer truthful, since employers can tell when an answer is inauthentic. Focus on real answers that also show that you will do well at the job at hand.
Don’t Focus on the Money
Avoid making salary and benefits the focus of your answer. Responding that way puts the focus on your desires, instead of the company's.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
Also review these related questions you might be asked at an interview.
- Why are you the best person for the job? – Best Answers
- What were your responsibilities at your last job? – Best Answers
- What did you like/dislike about your previous job? – Best Answers
- How would you describe your work style? – Best Answers
- Do you work well with other people? – Best Answers
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Learn as much as you can about the organization and its goals and needs.
TAILOR YOUR ANSWER TO THE COMPANY: Emphasize how your goals match those of the company.
BE HONEST: Don’t claim to be something you’re not (or to want something you don’t really want).
DON’T FOCUS ON MONEY: Now’s not the time to bring up salary. Negotiation comes later, once there’s an offer on the table.