How does this position fit in with the career path you envision for yourself?
I think a lot of people shoot themselves in the foot with this career path question.
To be fair, it is a hard question to answer, like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “What are your long-term goals?” Unless you’re a person who has their life planned out, it’s hard to predict what you’ll want to be doing down the road. Especially if you’re just starting out and still learning what jobs you love and what jobs you could do without.
Employers like to see people who don’t just float along with the tide. What’s going to motivate you to do a great job for them (besides the paycheck)? What’s going to make you want to do more, be better, take on new tasks, achieve? Do you have vision? Can you plan?
And, your answer tells the interviewer whether you want just any job or whether you’re interested in THIS job.
That’s a big part of what they’re asking here: “Why THIS job?”
My general response to this question would concentrate on what I’m going to learn from this job:
“I would say that my career path is such that my career serves me, and I serve my career. I’m looking to grow and become more and contribute more and be more than I am today in my next role. And I know that if I do that I’ll be rewarded professionally, personally, and financially. This position fits that for me because it’s a growth role that will benefit me professionally because I’m going to be able to learn and develop more skills. As I do well, I’m going to be paid financially and personally in terms of personal satisfaction. It’s a stepping stone to the next role. It’s an opportunity to hone my skill set. It’s an opportunity to learn this particular skill.”
If you have a general end destination in mind, that’s great. Talk about how this job is going to help you meet that goal. But only in the most general terms: “I plan to add value in this position, develop my skills to help grow the company, and eventually move into roles of greater responsibility.” An answer along these lines tells them you’re ambitious without any negative side effects, like being a threat to the interviewer’s job.
Bottom line: You don’t have to have a written-in-stone life plan done to answer this question. You just have to know what you’re getting out of this job besides the paycheck.