A representation of a job interview of a female candidate by a male executive with her bio shown in the background. Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

Simone had confidently cleared two technical rounds of interviews for her dream job last week. Her last round was with the company's directors. They asked her one last question before closing: "Where would you like to be in your career 15 years from now?"

Simone hadn't given any thought to such a long span, so she just mentioned a few future roles. The interviewers exchanged looks and the interview was over. Simone had no way of knowing if they liked her answer.

What if your interviewer asks this question, too? How will you answer?

What Not To Say

A man waving his finger in a

Never include these in your answer to this question:

  • "I haven't really thought about that!"

    Why not? It implies a lack of seriousness and preparation for the interview.

  • "I'd like to be in a senior executive or director's role in the future."

    Why not? This does not give any idea about what you're willing to put in and may even sound overly presumptuous.

  • "I look forward to learning new skills and enhancing my capabilities as needed."

    Why not? It sounds too vague and generic.

  • "I'll align my future goals to the company rules."

    Why not? This implies an overall lack of ambition or seriousness about the job and career.

What You Should Say

Jack Nicholson nodding in affirmatio.

The key to answering this question is to focus on what you can give to the employers or the role. Here's what you should do:

  1. Break the time into 3 chunks of 5 years.

    Describe what you might do in each 5-year period. Take them through what you plan to do in the first few years and how you plan to take it up a notch in the years after that.

  2. Talk about how your goals will help them.

    Paint a vivid picture of the value that you plan to deliver within each of those 5-year chunks. Connect your skills and capabilities with the company goals.

Sample Answers To Get You Started

For a Sales Role

A vector representation of three sales interns discussing business pie charts. Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

"In the first 5 years, my focus will be on assisting my manager and senior staff with administrative tasks like maintaining records and conducting market research.

In the next 5 years, I aim to get into active calling and sending emails to prospective leads, and converting some of them through meaningful connections and expanded offerings.

In the last 5 years, I'll work on strengthening relationships with my leads and clients."

For an Accountant Role

A vector representation of two accountants analyzing a financial statement using a calculator. Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

"In the first 5 years, my focus will be on organizing, calculating, and analyzing to help keep accurate records and run more efficiently.

In the next 5 years, I plan to immerse myself in the position by preparing financial reports, overseeing payroll and accounts payable and receivable, and ensuring all balances are accurate for tax and legal purposes.

In the last 5 years, my aim will be maintaining company accounts, offering financial and tax-related advice, conducting audits, and budgeting.

Quiz: What Should Caleb Say?

A confident black youth carrying a backpack and walking on a city street.

Image by freepik

Caleb is interviewing for an HR intern contract position at a pharmacy company. The interviewers have asked him his plans for the next 15 years and he seems confused. What should he say?

A. "I have prepared an answer for 5 years. Would you like to hear that instead?"

B. "I'll work on learning the nitty-gritty of the role in the first 5 years, then spend the next 5 years working with my seniors and colleagues to devise new HR strategies, and apply my knowledge to make it a joyful working experience for all in the last 5 years."

C. "I'm really passionate about traveling but don't want to burden my parents with it. So I'm planning to work for the next 15 years, save money, and then go on a world tour."

D. "I've learned that contract positions often get converted into full-time roles. I plan to get into one as soon as possible and enjoy all the associated perks and benefits."


Which of the following should be Caleb's answer?

Take Action

Oprah interviewing someone. She says 'Your future's so bright it burns my eyes. '

While you may not be asked this specific question in the interview, you can still talk about aligning your goals with those of the company if you're asked related questions such as:

Here's a quick checklist for answering such questions:

Remember to be enthusiastic and honest andkeep youranswer aligned with the expectations of the job and the company's needs.


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