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Where Do You See Yourself In 10 Years?: Why It Is Asked & How To Answer [With Sample Answers]

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Have you attended an interview, and the interviewer asks, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’

Maybe you froze up or gave a stumbling, roundabout answer and saw the light leave the interviewer’s eyes, a sure sign you lost the job.

You are not alone! Many people have the same experience when confronted with this seemingly simple question. It’s not that simple in the context of a job interview, though.

Don’t lose sleep over it! We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to nail the answer next time.  

Why Do Interviewers Ask, “Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?”?

The short answer is that interviews ask this question to gauge your ambition level.

Unfortunately for you, it’s also a loaded question that can tell the hiring manager a lot about your career aspirations, personality, and how you fit into the role and organization as a whole.

Interviewers also get a feel about how serious you are about the position. Is it just a stepping stone, a way to make money, or part of a larger career plan?

What Is the Interviewer Looking for?

Hiring managers typically want your answer to touch on a few key points.

  • You have a career plan that fits with the position you’re applying for, and it’s not just a temporary fix for something else.
  • Your goals and plans align with the company’s needs for the role you hope to fill.
  • On a slightly lesser level, it allows the hiring manager to gauge your personality and ambitions to see if they will work with the company culture.

LIke every other question throughout the interview, the hiring manager is looking for a candidate who represents a viable investment.

Employee retention is a massive marker for any hiring team, so they want to know you are worth the time and effort to train.

Depending on the job, the interviewer might want to see a long-term plan that includes promotional aspirations.

How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?”

It’s one thing to understand the reasoning behind the question, but it’s a completely different challenge to craft the best interview answers.

With this question in particular, you need to be cautious about how you respond to ensure it sounds organic and not rehearsed.

What to Focus on When Answering the Question

As you prepare for this question, try to consider the best case scenario for your future self.  To that end, you need to focus on some key points to send the right message to the interviewer.

Know the Company

Do your research before you walk into the interview. Know what the company’s goals are so that you can weave them into your answer.

Remember, you want to show the interviewer that your goals align with theirs. You want them to think you are the best person to help the company achieve their long-term goals.

Provide a Realistic Answer

While being a go-getter has merits, don’t push that ambition too far. Although career growth is possible within 10 years, you must be as realistic as possible.

Think big and bold but be realistic about what you hope to achieve. For example, if you’re applying for an entry-level gig, it’s okay to shoot for an upper management position within ten years.

Claiming you hope to be the CEO might not be as realistic.

Addressing realistic promotional aspirations can have the added benefit of opening the door to discussion about advancement opportunities within the company.

Relate the Answer to the Position

The hiring manager wants to hear how your plans relate to the job you’re applying for. As such, you must communicate how you plan to advance in that position and the position you hope to have attained in 10 years.

If you plan on working for the organization for a short period, explain what you want to achieve while working for the company.

Such a response eliminates any doubt the interviewer may have about you staying in the company for the long haul.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

If you hope to avoid a cringeworthy reaction from your interviewer with a quick trip to the reject pile, it’s best to avoid these missteps.

  • Vague answers: Avoid coming off as unambitious or unprofessional. It’s a telltale sign that you won’t stick around for a long time.
  • Being unrealistic: Thinking too big makes you appear inexperienced.
  • Being too aggressive: You want to communicate ambition without coming off as aggressive or threatening.
  • Underselling yourself: If the main objective for applying for the job is to transition from an entry-level position to a higher one, you come off as one who lacks ambition.

Though it seems like an obvious answer to avoid, refrain from telling the interviewer that you hope to sit in their spot someday.

Even if you aspire to that position or think you’re flattering them, it usually comes across as aggressive.

Examples to Consider

Here are examples you may consider giving when asked, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’

Sample Answer 1

Working with your company provides an excellent opportunity to participate in your training program. Your personalized approach is desirable because I can learn new skills and work with a mentor.

Also, I’m extremely hands-on, jumping into projects as soon as they’re assigned. So, over the next ten years, I see myself taking on as many assignments as the position would allow me to gain experience and build meaningful relationships. Having grown with the company and perfected my skills, I hope to train others who may join your company.

Why This Answer Works

The answer shows that the candidate researched the company and found out it has a training program.

The candidate also answers the question, “where do you see yourself in 10 years,’’ by explaining how the training will help them in the long run.

Every part of the answer is realistic, valuable, and tied to the company’s objectives. The candidate also expresses their commitment to the job, company, and ambition without coming off as threatening.

Sample Answer 2

After researching your company, I understand there’s a lot of opportunity to grow hence my expression of interest in this position.

I love working for companies with growth prospects, and based on your achievements, I’d love to be part of your team.

In 10 years, I hope to be entrusted with more responsibilities and be part of helping the company attain its potential. I hope to have learned a lot about the industry and become a thought leader who can inspire other candidates.

Why This Works

The candidate ties the position to the company’s goals by mentioning their desire to grow with the company. And it’s not just about growing their career but leveraging their skills to help other people joining the company in the future.

Sample Answer 3

As an SEO professional, I hope to develop my skill set. At the end of the next ten years, I want to know how to use SEO tools like Ahrefs, Google Search Console, and Semrush.

I also want to develop an understanding of AI writing software and how to improve keyword research for AI-related content.

I love learning on the job; this company provides the perfect opportunity. I plan to apply my new skills in this position at your company.

Why This Answer Works

The answer shows the candidate’s desire to develop specific skills while working for the company. If using this approach, you must avoid mentioning skills required for the role and focus on the time spent at the company.

Also, the candidate doesn’t indicate their desire to leave for another company, assuring the interviewer that you want to grow with the company.

Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years

If you’re still struggling to craft a viable answer that fits with your career goals, these tips might help you fill in the gaps and smooth things out.

Get Acquainted with The Variations of this Question

Not all interviewers will ask you this question the same way. Some hiring managers ask about your career goals in the next three, five, or ten years.

You must be prepared to answer any variations of this question to avoid getting caught off-guard, overshooting, or undershooting yourself.

What you answer for ten years out and three years out should be wildly different responses.

Be Honest

Many candidates feel pressured to impress the interviewer and give dishonest answers. It shouldn’t be the case.

It would help if you gave honest answers that represent your intentions accurately. If you get hired, you can learn new skills required for the role.

Some candidates also over-emphasize how long they plan to stay with the company to appear better than other candidates; it’s not impressive.

Ten years is a long time; if you don’t plan on staying with a company for that long, don’t make any promises. Focus on what you hope to learn without mentioning any negative aspects of the job.

Mention the Employer in Your Answer

In addition to tailoring the answer to the company’s goals, mention your desire to support your prospective employer’s position.

Tell them you intend to leverage your skills to help your employer achieve more. You can say past achievements to demonstrate your ability to provide value.

Additional Questions To Be Aware Of

It’s unlikely that an interviewer will wrap things up after one question, so it’s best to cover your bases and prepare for some of the other common questions.

Wrapping Up

“Where do you want to see yourself in 10 years” is a common question that tells the interviewer how you fit the role and whether or not your goals align with the company’s plans.

The best response should be realistic, honest, relatable, and focused on the company’s goals and objectives. You must also avoid providing vague answers, coming off as aggressive or threatening.

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