Life’s an amazing adventure, at least for the lucky of us, who weren’t born in a slum or with some incurable disease. And while the question about the existence of eternal life will always remain a mystery, another thing is certain: we are here, on planet Earth, and we have a life to live. But what should we do with it? What should we aspire to accomplish? Sooner or later, we will ponder this uneasy question. And sooner or later, you will have to answer it, in a job interview, or in a school admission interview.
At the end of the day, the hiring managers (or the admission committee at school), do not expect to hear that you want to put a dent in the universe. But they want to hear about some goals and ambitions, as they reflect your values, and these are of a great interest to your future employer… What’s more, people who aim to achieve something–whether within their work or with their life, are the best employees. Because they have a reason to live, to go to work, and this reflects in their everyday motivation and attitude to work.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question, or to its alternatives, such as “What is your ambition in life?” or “What do you want to become in your life?” My list includes both typical and unconventional (or philosophical) answers, and I hope you will find there something to use in your interview. Or at least it should inspire you to come up with some ideas…
7 sample answers to “What do you want to achieve 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 my ambition, 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…
* May also interest you: Answers to 15 most common interview questions.
- To be honest, I do not dream of any big accomplishments. It’s just not my way of thinking of life. I try to enjoy the present moment, to give my full attention to an activity I am doing right now–be it answering a phone call of a customer, peeling potatoes, running up the hill, or talking to you here in an interview. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s worth trying in every second of our earthly existence. Ambitions to change something in the world are an invention of our ego, and will eventually make us unhappy, always. Because even the biggest achievement is just an instant gratification and we will always want. That’s not a way to be happy in life. It’s a road to an abyss.
- I would like to change something to better in the indigenous community. I understand how difficult the life is for many of them, and that politics isn’t in their favor. But here I am, with my mission, trying to achieve equality, or at least make living a bit easier for them. That’s why I chose social work for my studies, spent years living with the indigenous people, and eventually applied for a job with your NGO. My personal mission is my reason to go on living and trying hard each day, because I believe I try to achieve something truly important in my lifespan.
- I simply want to maximize my potential as an athlete. To train hard, to do all the exercises, quality recovery, right diet, you name it. In order to do it I have to belong to a truly professional team, one that has only the highest ambitions, and do not want to play the second league in the races. That’s why I decided to apply for a scholarship at your university. I know the coaches here, the commitment of people in your athletics squad, and of course the results you achieve with your athletes. I believe that I can achieve my goals while studying and training here.
- Eventually, at some point of my life, I’d like to run my own business, a prospering hotel or restaurant. That is my long term ambition, to run a place where people won’t come only to eat, or stay. A place where they will come for an unforgettable dining experience. But I am too young to pursue this ambition, and I have no money to start with. At this stage of my professional career, I simply want to learn, gain experiences, and eventually get ready for pursuing my dream in the future. Your hotel is an ideal place to gain such experiences.
- I can answer your question with one word: balance. I am seeking balance in life, and I am sure that almost everyone does the same, though they may sometimes struggle to express it properly. The right balance of being humble and confident, balance of my work and family life, a good balance of activities during the day, and, before anything else, a mental balance, a certain state of consciousness rid of negative emotions, such as envy, anger, worry, and so on. It’s not an easy goal to achieve, I know. And maybe it is a lifelong journey, something that will always remain just an ambition, and ideal we try to reach but never will. Nevertheless, I will continue trying…
* Do not forget to check also: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Show some excitement for your dreams
Regardless of whether you talk about work-related goals, or some higher ambitions, you should speak with enthusiasm in your voice. They won’t believe you otherwise.
They should get an impression that you see a meaning in your life, or at least are certain there is a meaning, and you continue searching for it. And, in an ideal case, you should connect your employment in the company with this meaning. It’s not always possible to do, and it depends on the position you try to get. Check sample answers no. 4 and no. 5 for your inspiration.
* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Numbers in the question: 10 things you’d like to accomplish in your life, or what you want to achieve in 3-5 years from now
Interviewers can make the question more difficult by adding a modifier to it. For example a time horizon (3, 5, or 10 years), or an exact number of things you want to achieve in your life (I’ve seen this several times as a topic for an essay students had to write as a part of a school admission process). the first one, time horizon, is the easier of the two. Just be realistic, and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes with your career. Think about those three or five years–what you can learn, what job you can have, what you can achieve for your employer, your family, for yourself.
If they ask you to name 10 things you’d like to accomplish, I suggest you to aim for variety. You should include on your list some goals for your personal and family life, for your health, for your work, and perhaps also some philanthropy. Needless to say, if you are religious or spiritual, such goals should also make the list. Let me give you just a very brief example (you should elaborate on it in your own essay):
- Achieve Inner harmony and satisfaction.
- Happiness and peace in my family.
- Build active and fruitful relationships with both my friends and colleagues.
- Never stop learning new things in life.
- Keep both my physical and mental health as good as possible, for as long as possible.
- Make a positive difference in a local community, perhaps with some charity work.
- Run a marathon under 3:30, or achieve some other endurance feat in my life.
- Leave my mark on the marketing industry, a field I’d love to work in.
- One day raise my children to become good people.
- Always stay humble yet confident that I can change something in the world to better.
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…
Ready to handle this one? I hope so! Continue your preparation for the interviews with one of the following articles:
- This job is repetitive. What will you do to stay motivated?
- How to dress for an interview?
- What are your weaknesses?