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How Do You Answer: Where Do You See Yourself In 10 Years?

A young man shows that he is doing well with his career

 Is a question that is almost always asked in some form at an interview because it provides the interviewer with some essential information about the applicant it also gives the interviewer an idea of how well you have prepared for this interview.

   So let’s move onto how do you answer: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?


 What is the Interviewer want to know when they ask this question?

There are three main pieces of information that the interviewer wants to find out. From this question:

  1. If you get the job, will you stay or pack up and go in a couple of months?
  2. What long term ambitions do you have within the company?
  3. Did the applicant prepare for this question, and how well?

 Before we go on to looking at those three questions in more detail, we should touch on the important question of what the interviewer does NOT want:

  • The old chestnut about how the interviewee wants the interviewers’ job in five years;
  • Ambitions on becoming an international singing star;
  • Devious plans on how to take shortcuts to promotion within the company;
  • Lots of pauses while you demonstrate your lack of preparation with “errrr”, “hmmm”, and “I don’t know.”

     1. If you get the job, will you stay or pack up and go in a couple of months?

 Advertising vacancies, holding interviews, training new staff, and the interruptions caused after a member of staff leaves are expensive and inconvenient. The HR manager is judged on how smoothly staffing is managed; quite simply it looks bad on them if they apparently keep employing the wrong staff. They want to know that there is a good chance you will stay if appointed.

     2. What long term ambitions do you have within the company?


 The interviewer knows what the likely progression will be within the company if they appoint you. They are using this question to establish whether your career goals are aligned with those of the company. They want to know if you are both ambitious enough to progress steadily along the path, but also if you have unrealistic expectations if when not met, will disillusion you and cause you to leave.

     3. Did the applicant prepare for this question, and how well?

 Both interviewee and the interviewer know that this question is almost always asked. The interviewer will want to know if the interviewee bothered to prepare, and how well they did this.

     How to Answer?


Leader in the background of his team of employees

 So, how do you answer: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Here are some of the areas that your answer should cover.

 They want to know if the interviewee is genuinely keen to join the company or are they simply going through the process of having interviews to keep the unemployment office, parents, or partner, happy. Is this a genuine application?

 The interviewer will want to be sure that the applicant is content with the position they have applied for and not taking the job because it may offer a way into another higher-level job that the applicant thinks they are more suited to. Will the applicant be content with the role offered? But conversely, the interviewer wants to know that the applicant has ambitions that are realistic and match the career path that would normally be followed by people starting in this role. Is the applicant realistic over possible promotion in the future?

     The best answers to the question:

  1. First of all the answer should be realistic. Talking about becoming the CEO when applying for a clerical role is not realistic and would cause concern to the interviewer.
  2. The answer should make it clear that you have researched the company and its structures. That you have checked their website and looked at any section about employment. It may be that a large company has outlined career options and progression there. The applicant should answer in line with those progression routes.
  3. If the company or its website has mentioned possible training programs they should be referenced and something like “I would hope to work through the company training program and gain experience….” should be stated.
  4. The applicant has had time to prepare an answer for this so hopefully, the presentation given in reply to this question will be fluent and well structured.

 Even though you will be referencing sources to research answers to this question, do not become someone else and use different language when answering this question. Be yourself, the very best version of yourself.

     How to prepare for this question.


 As already stated. This is possibly the one question in an interview that is almost certainly going to arise. If you are serious about your application there is no excuse for not doing some preparation for answering it. In this section, we will look at some basic preparation to make before the interview.

     Check the company website.

 Increasingly companies are publishing wide ranges of information about themselves on their company website. There are also other websites that give career information about different companies. Try “Googling” Working for Microsoft, or working for Coca-Cola and you will be amazed at how much useful information is there for you. You will find information for even some of the smaller companies in this way.

Successful man stands in a business suit and glasses

 Having got answers about employment in your target company, now it is important you really know yourself. For a moment forget the interview and just write down what you TRUE ten year goals are. This is just for your benefit so that you understand what is truly your goal. Having done this you can pretty well rip them up and then answer the question again.

 This time write realistic goals that could actually stem from the position is being applied for, these may not actually match your goals but comparing the two lists should make you think if this really is the right position for you. If you decide to go ahead with the application then use the second list in your answer.

     When looking at the company you should look to check out:

  • What the career paths are for the position?
  • Is there any training program?
  • Any interesting information about the company that could be dropped easily into the conversation.

     Alternative ways the question is phrased.

 Our topic for this article has been how do you answer: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? You may find that you are asked a slightly different question, such as Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Or the more direct what are your long-term career goals? These questions are really all the same question and the preparation you have done for our original question will still be relevant.

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