There are few interview questions more well-known yet difficult to answer than- "what do you see yourself doing in 10 years?" While this may be a tricky question- it is actually not too difficult to provide a strong answer once you know what is actually being asked. It is not uncommon for this question to be asked regarding fewer or more years than 10- such as five or 15.
When interviewers ask you about your future- they are trying to gauge how good an investment you would be if hired. Keep this in mind when you are trying to decide what the best answer will be. This is a complicated issue- so be sure to take the time to consider it before you enter the interview. That way- you can be totally prepared and can answer without hesitating.
How to Answer the Question
Stay Relevant to the Potential Job:
The most important aspect of your answer to the question- "what do you see yourself doing in 10 years?" is how it relates to the job you are applying for. No matter what your plans are for the next 10 years- you must communicate whatever aspect relates to the job in order for your answer to be successful. If you are interested in entering this field and staying in it- describe how you hope to advance and what position- specifically- you hope to have attained by that point. If you are planning on going elsewhere- focus on what you hope to achieve while working in this position. Even if you are heading in a different direction- there will always be at least some aspects that apply to where you are now. Even if there are simply some attributes that you will be working on strengthening- you can describe them and how they will apply to the job.
Have a Realistic Answer:
One of the worst mistakes you can make when answering- "what do you see yourself doing in 10 years?" is give an unrealistic answer. While it is possible not to be ambitious enough- most candidates are accidentally too ambitious- describing something that will likely not be possible. This simply illustrates that you are inexperienced. Additionally- a company may not want to hire you simply because you would be expecting advancement when it would not be possible. Before the interview- research how long it usually takes for someone to get a promotion in this field and how advancement typically works. If you are interested in a particular position- know the path that is taken to reach it- so you will be informed when discussing it. If nothing else- this is an opportunity to demonstrate you are committed and serious about the job and experienced in this kind of work.
Finally- do not try to tailor your answers to interview questions specifically to please the interviewer. You should give a genuine answer that will accurately represent your intentions. If you are hired- you may be able to get help advancing if the company knows where you are trying to go. It can be tempting to overemphasize how long you are intending to stay with this company in an effort to make you seem like a more appealing candidate- but this is also unwise. If you think you might not still be working in this position in 10 years- you should instead focus on what you hope to do in the meantime. What sort of commitment will you have to the job while you are working there? Focus only on the positive and downplay the negative- instead of lying about it.
I'm very interested in this field. In 10 years- I hope to have advanced as much as possible. The position I'm really interested in is coordination supervisor- but I know they typically have more than 10 years of experience. In 10 years- however- I really hope to be well on my way to achieving that position. I've always prioritized commitment to my job- collaboration- and leadership- so I don't think I would have any trouble at all advancing in this field and moving toward that goal. I certainly expect and hope to still be working with this company in 10 years.
It is hard for me to say where I will be in 10 years- but I know that I can am fully prepared to bring my all to the position and will be committed to it for the next several years. I am interested in advancement- and I think I am a great candidate for a higher position- but there are still a few positions I am interested in. I was able to advance in my previous job through my focus on details and coordination.
Learn more about this and other interview questions so you can be fully prepared for your job interview.