When you are talking about “ambition” in a job interview, make sure that you are keeping it relevant and aligning your response to the role you are interviewing for. Make no mistake, ambition is great. It creates energy and enthusiasm in people and it’s what drives them. All very good things.
No employer ever briefs me on finding them a lazy, unmotivated, disheartened employee – ever. What they do, is brief me on a specific job and quite simply the want someone to do THAT job. End of story.
The word “ambition” is often brought up before, during and after an interview. Sometimes clients say that they’d prefer to find someone who isn’t too ambitious, as they would prefer the person to stay in the role for a length period of time (as opposed to going through the effort and expense of re-recruiting quickly). Other times they’re open to recruiting an ambitious person with a bright, active mind – full of new ideas. Perfect for a dynamic, growing business and/or team. It really will depend on the role and company.
But what I need to help you understand is that if you WANT TO GET THE JOB you are interviewing for, then you need to keep your ambition aligned with what an employer would most likely expect for the role that they are recruiting.
Recently I’ve had a few candidates asked the question: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” (In the world of office support roles I feel is a ridiculous question. But I will write about why I feel that way next week so stay tuned!)… I had one candidate reply with “running my own childcare centre. I’ve been saving for years now, it’s a pipe dream but I know I’ll get there eventually”.
Ok. So this came from a fantastic EA who had a hell of a lot to give the business and she genuinely felt that would show them that she was ambitious and capable of more than just an EA role. However, we must remember that the client is a CEO, and he is hiring an EA. He wants someone to be the best EA in the ENTIRE world, save his day, make him even more successful than he ever thought he could be and build a close knit business partnership…He doesn’t want to hire someone who isn’t committed to him and his role. You can imagine how that interview ended. She missed out on the role. Sadly, up to that point he wanted to pretty much offer her on the spot (due to her background, presentation and the first 30 minutes of the interview).
It’s not that her ambition was wrong – but sometimes you have to show discretion when you are in an interview. Keep your short term ambitions relevant to the role you are interviewing for and hold off on disclosing your long term ambitions (as long as it doesn’t effect your ability to commit to the job at hand).
Some might say that the role wasn’t right for her, as ultimately she wanted to run a childcare centre. I disagree. It really was a pipedream and for the next 3-5 years she is ready to commit to a fantastic EA role however, by disclosing her ambition she was overlooked.
If you think of how a CEO of any major corporation would answer that question, he wouldn’t be saying to answer the board of Directors , “I’m keen to retire in the country, build up my own B&B business, grow citrus trees and tend my veggie patch’. It doesn’t really scream “hire me” as the driving force of your company.
So by all means be open about your plans for the future but try to keep them relevant to what relates to the employer and the job you are applying for. Use some discretion and make sure your ambition is aligned with the role you are interviewing for.
Naomi Marshall – Director
P: (02) 9271 0011
M: 0422 139 910