The question ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?’ is still a big stumbling block for interviewees. We’ve looked all over for the perfect answer and the one we’ve found comes from no less than President Obama himself! Perhaps you’ve just never thought about it. Or maybe it doesn’t seem all that important. But, to make a good impression, it’s best to give this question a bit of thought to avoid leaving interviewers with the impression that you’re not too bothered about your future career. You can hardly say ‘I don’t see myself anywhere in 10 years’ time’! Here are some tips from President Obama about nailing this tricky question. Watch and learn!
TIP 1: SURPRISE THE INTERVIEWER
To begin with, it can work in your favour to throw the person interviewing you by surprising them. Obama kicks off with ‘Well, I haven’t projected out 10 years’ (Oh, really?).
TIP 2: RAISE THEIR EXPECTATIONS
You can’t just trot out some spiel you googled beforehand. Be natural – leave room for spontaneity. Look thoughtfully down at the ground, close your eyes and reply ‘I’m really focused on making sure that I make every day in the next two and a half years count, because it’s an incredible privilege to be in this office.’ Do:
– Show humility
– Use evocative language to help the interviewer visualise what you are saying
– Remember that it’s a privilege for you to be where you are today
TIP 3: STAY COOL
Reinforce your message with the power of pauses. There’s no need to fill every tiny silence between your answers and the interviewer’s questions. Stay cool, engaged, at ease. When responding, use gestures that reflect how you are looking to the future. Smile, then go straight back to being serious. Strike the right balance between your verbal communication and body language.
TIP 4: REPEAT YOUR MESSAGE AND STAY ON COURSE
The strength of a storyteller lies in their ability to repeat their message and take it beyond its current context. Be honest and don’t be afraid to reveal any frustrations you may have.
‘And even when I’m frustrated with Congress or I’m frustrated with the press and how it’s reporting things and Washington generally, I also know that there’s something I can do every single day that’s helping somebody.’
Show that you’re not thinking about the question from a personal perspective, but in terms of the needs of the company, or at least a shared interest. You’re focused on others, not yourself. Prove that you’re not just thinking about 10 years’ time, but about each day that passes. You’re right here, right now, with a vision for the next 10 years.
You’re focused on others, not yourself
TIP 5: USE HUMOUR (CAREFULLY)
Take a step back from the question by revealing what you could do in simple terms. ‘I know what I’ll do right after the next President is inaugurated. I’ll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut’. Don’t be afraid to remind the interviewer that you’re someone who knows how to enjoy the simple things in life.
Alternatively, acknowledge the qualities of others and show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. ‘I think they’re much wiser and smarter than I was, part of it maybe is because of Tumblr — I don’t know.’
TIP 6: CONFIDE IN YOUR INTERVIEWER
Obama uses this technique brilliantly, making it seem as though he’s letting the interviewer in on a secret by sharing details about his personal life. ‘And one of the things that Michelle and I have talked about a lot is we’re really interested in developing young people and working with them and creating more institutions to promote young leadership’. You obviously haven’t waited to be asked before giving this question some thought – it’s something you think about every day!
TIP 7: REPEAT SENTENCE STRUCTURES
The rhetorical device par excellence (when used properly), you can use this technique to convey your ideas and message much more powerfully. ‘It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.’
TIP 8: END ON A HIGH
While others are thinking about the next 10 years, you’re looking to the horizon. You’re anticipating the opportunities that lie ahead. You’re helping people to overcome a problem. You’re making them aware of the great things they can achieve. ‘But look out on the horizon, and there’s a lot of opportunity out there. And that’s what I’d like to do after the presidency, is make sure that I help young people guard against cynicism and do the remarkable things they can do.’
How about you? Do you need a coaching session to help you answer this question?