Tough Interview Question - Where do you want to be ten years from now?

Where do you want to be ten years from now?

Similar interview questions:
Where do you want to be two to five years from now?
Are you looking to get promoted in your career?
Are you more interested in following an individual contributor path or management path?
What level role do you aspire to in your career?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
If the interviewer is asking in the two to five year range, it is typically to probe where you see your next role and/or promotion. If the timeframe is further out (ten years), the interviewer is looking for whether your mid-term career interests are more toward being an individual contributor or moving into management.

The best approach to answering this question:
Be very careful how you answer this question, since there isn’t a definitive “right” answer. The eventual answer will depend on what the opportunities may be somewhere down the line in the future. So the best approach is to use a hybrid answer if you are currently in an individual contributor role. Talk about developing yourself as an individual contributor (and give an example), then shift to discussing how that would prepare you for a variety of roles in the future. You can even shift the question back to the interviewer at that point by inquiring what opportunities might typically be available during that time frame for high achievers.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
“In the near term, I want to develop myself into becoming the best ____ I can become. I want to become a subject matter expert within the company. As an example of developing this skill, I am currently… And in the longer run, I would like to develop myself to be ready to take on whatever roles might be available and appropriate in the future. Does your company have career paths for this role that extend out into the ten year timeframe?…”

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
“My first and primary goal is to become fully productive in my role. I would like to expand that further to reach a more senior level over time as I develop additional experience and expertise. At some point in my career I realize there may be an opportunity to either follow the individual contributor or management path. I want to develop myself to be ready for either role, should the opportunity arise. Let me tell you about what I am currently doing to prepare myself for taking the industry certification exam…”

An example of how you should not answer this question:
“Wow, ten years from now? I’m not even sure where I’ll be ten days from now. I really don’t think that far into the future or worry about stuff. Hakuna matata.”

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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