How to answer: 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?'

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviews come with a large number of questions, some of which are quite common throughout many interviews. Understanding the meaning behind these popular questions and how to answer them well could place you in good standing to get the job. One common question is 'where do you see yourself in 10 years?'. In this article, we explain the reasoning behind this question and provide some good responses for you to use with tips for success.

'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?' interview question

'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?' is a very broad and general question. It gives you scope to provide an answer that is both honest and well suited to a specific job. Here is some background information on why an interviewer may ask you this question.

Why this question?

You may wonder why this question is so commonly used in interviews. It provides the interviewer with an understanding of you as a person rather than just an interviewee or a name on a CV. Here are four reasons why an interviewer may ask you where you see yourself in 10 years:

1. To see if you're interested in the field

If an interviewer asks this question and you provide an answer which is completely unrelated to the job that you applied for, they may infer that you're not interested in the field. This could negatively impact their opinion of you. The same applies if you don't provide an answer to the question at all or if it's very vague.

2. To see if you want progression in the company

Your answer may relate to the field of the job but not the company. This could happen if you intend to take a specific career path in the future that is not available within the company. This may communicate that you're interested in the position but may not stay with the company for a long time. Researching the employees and corporate structure in the company could prevent this from happening, allowing you to tailor your answer more carefully to the company.

Related: Top Tips for Successful Career Progression

3. To see if you're ambitious or motivated

There are many possible answers to the question. Knowing where you want your career to go is an indication that you're an ambitious person who is motivated to work in that particular field. Providing a good answer communicates that you have researched the sector and the company and that you're specifically interested in that job.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Are Your Career Aspirations?'

4. To see if you're hardworking

Understanding where you want to be in 10 years and achieving it are two different things. If you provide an ambitious but reasonable answer to the question, then you present yourself as hardworking. This is a skill that many employers would like to see in their employees and could put you in good standing for the job.

Related: What Are Open-Ended Interview Questions?

7 tips for a successful answer

Here are some tips for providing a successful answer to the question. It's important to prepare for this question in case it comes up in the interview. This is because it makes you look professional and well prepared for the interview. You can also appear more eloquent if you can answer the question well rather than being unsure. Here are seven tips to make your answer a good one:

1. Keep it simple

Make sure that your answer is well thought out but simple. You don't want to give a rambling answer which details every planned step on your career path. Instead, providing a concise and informative answer outlining the specific place that you would like to be in 10 years means that the interviewer can understand your aims and can easily determine if you're a good fit for the job.

Related: 14 ways to project body language confidence (with example)

2. Include your skills

Answering this question can be a difficult one, but you can make it easier by including your skills. If you have a specific skill that would be beneficial for the job that you would like to improve, you can mention it here. This could be anything from communication to IT skills. As long as you intend to improve the skill rather than gain it on the job, this could be an excellent addition to your answer.

Related: What Are Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

3. Research the company

Taking time to research the organisation could be very beneficial to help you think of a successful answer to this question. This could mean understanding the potential career paths that the organisation currently offers. Having a firm answer for the specific job you would like to do in 10 years available within the organisation demonstrates that you're interested in continuing to work for the organisation. Employers tend to want longevity in employees, and describing ambitions and paths that are possible within the organisation itself is attractive to interviewers.

Related: How To Research A Company For An Interview

4. Consider what your ambition is

Whilst it's good to have a well thought out answer which is highly attractive to the interviewer, you could also consider what you want to do in 10 years. Honesty is also appealing because your answer may sound more sincere. This process could lead you to consider whether the job you're interviewing for is actually what you want to do. Think about your true ambitions and goals and how they can relate to the job and the company.

Related: Interview question: “Tell me about yourself”

5. Be specific

Interviewers look for well thought out, honest responses. Being vague means you can't communicate your intent to them. Try to be as specific as you can to come across as professional and organised.

6. Be prepared to follow up

You may provide a very good answer to the question. Or maybe your answer lacks detail. Either way, the interviewer may ask you to clarify your answer or want to discuss a specific aspect of it to understand your thought process more. Prepare to talk around the topic with some examples of work you would like to achieve or complete.

Related: What To Say In An Interview: 12 Effective Phrases

7. Be realistic

You may apply for a customer service job and say your ambition is to become CEO in 10 years. This is not a realistic aim, and the interviewer may not take you seriously. Remember to make your answer ambitious but not unrealistic within the timeframe of 10 years.

Examples answers to 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?'

There are many examples of answers to the question 'where do you see yourself in 10 years?'. You can use these examples and tailor them to your own experience. Here are good examples of how to answer the question:

Example 1: Interviewing for a customer service job

'In 10 years, I would like to improve my leadership and communication skills. I plan to do this by taking on responsibility within the store and leading my colleagues when appropriate. I would like to progress to a store management position within five years and then regional management in 10 years. During this time, I would like to implement my ideas in improving the layout and accessibility of the store to encourage a wider demographic to have access to the services that you provide.'

Example 2: Interviewing for a secondary school teaching assistant position in geography

'In 10 years, I would like to be a full teacher working towards a head of department position. I would like to implement my ideas for enhancing my students' education through the school trips that I have conceived of, which produces a hands-on understanding of the environment and promotes more sustainable living for the future generation.'

Example 3: Interviewing for an assistant librarian position

'I would like to be a head librarian in 10 years. I would like to achieve several professional qualifications to assist me in this process and to demonstrate my ability to perform this role. Throughout the time, I plan to improve my IT skills so I can implement my ideas on improving customer knowledge of the library and advertise your services through social media.'

Example 4: Interviewing for a dishwashing job in a kitchen

'In 10 years, I would like to be a sous chef. I aim to complete a food safety course and finish my qualification as a chef alongside my work within a kitchen. My ultimate goal is to become a head chef. I recognise that this may not be possible within 10 years, particularly in your kitchen as you have some very talented staff. I hope to improve my cooking skills and work my way up within a kitchen to the top positions.'

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

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