Where Do You See Yourself In 10 Years? (Example Answers Included)

where do you see yourself in 10 years

By Mike Simpson

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? It’s one of those interview questions that seems so simple on the surface but is actually incredibly hard to answer. After all, no one can predict the future 100 percent accurately, right? So, how are you supposed to come up with an awesome response?

Yes, getting the answer right can be a little tricky. However, by using the correct strategy, it gets much easier. If you want to have a stand-out answer for the interview classic, where do you see yourself in 10 years, here’s what you need to know.

The 10-Year Period vs. the 5-Year Period

Okay, before we dive into how to answer this question, let’s take a second and talk about the highly similar one – “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – and how the two compare.

While the two questions have a lot in common, how you answer them isn’t the same. Yes, you’re talking about the future in both cases. But the thing is, 10 years is a lot further away.

Think about it this way; ten years ago, the first Tesla Model S made it into a customer’s hands. The iPad was only two years old, and people were still wondering about the future of touch computing. Siri was also new, launching in late 2011.

Ultimately, a lot of change can happen in five years. But compare it to 10 years, and it seems like nothing.

Over 10 years, most professionals mature and grow a lot in their careers. You can go from entry-level to management in that time frame in many fields. That kind of development just isn’t common in half that time.

That’s part of why this question is such a doozy. You aren’t just thinking about the next step or two in your career; you have to consider the next half-dozen steps. That isn’t easy.

Couple that with the fact that predicting how your field will evolve in that time is hard, and it may seem like a perfect answer to “where do you see yourself in 10 years” doesn’t exist. However, that isn’t the case. By understanding what the hiring manager is trying to learn, it’s far easier to create an excellent response.

Why Does the Hiring Manager Ask This Question?

Since the hiring manager knows that you can’t tell the future, why on earth would they ask you a question like this? Mainly, they want to see if your long-term vision for your career aligns with the company.

In the end, hiring managers usually focus on very specific things when making hiring decisions. While ensuring you have the right hard and soft skills is part of the equation, they also want to assess your potential for longevity. If your long-term career goals don’t mesh with the company, they’ll likely assume you won’t stick around for long. Since retention is critical in their eyes, that makes you a less desirable candidate.

However, if your vision for the future could easily play out while working for them, the opposite is true. They’ll view you as a stronger candidate because your goals align. Essentially, you’ll look like a better investment.

Another point the hiring manager is assessing with this question is your mindset. Often, you can tell a lot about a person’s personality based on how they answer this question. For example, you can determine if a candidate is methodical, reasonable, bold, or ambitious depending on how they respond. That’s a lot of potential information.

In the end, the hiring manager is typically focused on those two points when they ask this question. By focusing on those areas, you can increase your odds of standing out from the crowd.

Common Mistakes When Answering This Question

As with all parts of an interview, it’s possible to make mistakes when answering, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” One of the biggest is discussing a role or goal that has nothing to do with your current career path or what the company offers. In either case, it makes you seem like a poor match to the hiring manager, so it can easily cost you the job.

Similarly, being unrealistic doesn’t work in your favor. For example, if you’re interviewing for an entry-level role after just graduating from college, saying that you’ll be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company isn’t a wise move. Even if it’s technically possible, calling that goal lofty is an understatement, so it can make you seem naïve.

However, undershooting isn’t a wise move either. If your main goal is to move from an entry-level job to the next position up, that can work against you. The hiring manager may worry that you lack any ambition or wonder that you doubt your capabilities. In either case, it could be enough to give them pause.

Finally, saying you want the hiring manager’s job specifically is seldom an intelligent move. By phrasing it that way, your answer comes off as threatening or aggressive. Again, that doesn’t make you seem like a solid choice, so it’s better to avoid that misstep entirely. 

Tips for Answering This Question

While you can’t see the future, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a stellar response to “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” If you aren’t sure how to start, here are three helpful tips.

Learn About the Company

First and foremost, you want to find out a bit more about the company before you try to create an answer for this interview question. In the end, you need to discuss a goal that aligns with something the company brings to the table. That could include supporting their mission, advancing into roles they offer, or something similar.

In the end, you won’t know how to tie everything together if you don’t do some research. As a result, this is the best place to start.

Review Your Career Path

After learning a bit about the company, take a deep dive into your career path. Dig into the roles that logically come next and how long it typically takes to land them. That way, you can discuss various positions you’d like to hold during the 10-year period while ensuring your response is realistic.

MIKE'S TIP: In some cases, you can find out how long it takes to land a particular job on the path with some online research. However, if you can’t find that data, you can get a solid estimate on your own. Head to a site like LinkedIn and find other professionals who hold a similar role. Then compare their work history or college graduation dates to when they landed the position. That helps you get a general timeline, letting you know whether getting there in 10 years is realistic.

Mention the Employer Specifically

If you can tie in a goal about supporting or advancing your employer’s position, market share, or anything in that vein, do it. Along with general goal alignment, part of your plan is to provide a company with exceptional value. You’re aiming to help your employer do more, which may be just the thing to set you apart from the crowd.

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

Alright, now it’s time to dive into what you’re hoping to learn: how to answer the “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” interview question.

So, what does it take to nail this one? Well, it takes a reliable strategy. First, it’s time to get to know our friend, the Tailoring Method. With the Tailoring Method, you can craft answers that are as relevant to the role and hiring manager as possible. And, since creating alignment increases your odds of moving forward in the hiring process and securing a job offer, that’s vital.

Beyond that, you need to discuss a challenging but realistic objective you’d like to obtain, preferably while showcasing how you’ll provide an employer with value. By bringing that all together, you’ll have a far easier time impressing the hiring manager.

Are you ready to make sure that your answer is top-notch? Excellent! Here’s a step-by-step guide and some example answers to make that easier.

Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a great answer means touching on the right bases. By using a systematic approach, you can cover every critical point. Here’s how to tackle the “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” interview question.

1. Learn About the Role and Company

As mentioned above, you need to know quite a bit about the company and job to come up with a relevant answer. Review the job description to learn more about the duties, then compare it to the company’s mission and values. Find places where everything aligns, and use that as a starting point.

2. Outline Your Career Path

After your initial research, it’s time to determine what’s realistic based on your chosen career path. Do a bit of digging to see what positions people work their way toward in 10 years (based on where you’re starting from), giving you a reasonable baseline.

3. Determine How You Can Deliver Value Along the Way

Now that you know where you can get in the next 10 years and how to relate your goals to the company’s mission or values, it’s time to go further. Think about how you can move down that path while bringing an employer exceptional value. Reflect on this company’s (or hiring manager’s) unique needs. That way, you can make this part as relevant as possible.

4. Refine Your Answer to Keep It Concise

Since this question is traditional, you want to keep your response concise. You don’t need to touch on every step in your plan. Instead, aim for a quick overview only, limiting yourself to the equivalent of just a couple of paragraphs.

Example Answers

Alright, so you probably have a solid idea of how to approach answering “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” But sometimes, nothing brings it all together than a few examples. So, here are some sample answers to inspire you, each focusing on a different career level.

Entry-Level Recent Graduate

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

As a recent college graduate, my main goal for the next 10 years is to learn and grow with a company, allowing me to support critical processes as I hone my skills. Along the way, I’m planning to explore emerging technologies that are benefitting the industry. Since your company is planning new implementations, I believe this allows me to provide exceptional value as I gain experience in the field, hopefully putting me on a management track.

Mid-Career Individual Contributor

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

During my career, I’ve largely focused on honing my skills, ensuring I can provide exceptional value to my employer. However, recently, I’ve had the opportunity to step into a leadership role, spearheading a critical project and overseeing a team. Through that experience, I’ve developed a love for coaching others toward success. As a result, I’m looking to shift from individual contributor to management within the coming years, ensuring I can provide value to companies by supporting the success of not just myself but those around me.

Manager

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people throughout my career. It’s the people that led me onto a management track. Being able to support the growth and success of not just a company but every individual on my team is incredibly rewarding.


Since your company also values its workforce and has a reputation for an exceptional culture, I believe that makes this position a clear fit. The role will help me move closer to my goal, allowing me to shift from overseeing a team to managing entire departments within the next 10 years.

Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to answer “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Make sure to use all of the tips above to your advantage. That way, when you meet with a hiring manager next, you’ll be ready to impress.

Good luck!

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.