‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans’. Woody Allen was right, as the history has proven countless times. We can plan and dream and hope, yet we never have things completely under our control. A pandemic starts, or we get sick, or something positive happens–such as falling in love with a stranger, and suddenly we have to change our plans, or want to change them.
But what does it mean for your job interview? Should you philosophize about uncertainty of life, or should you come up with a precise and concrete answer, explaining what you want do in six month, three years, and ten years from now? You can actually succeed with both approaches to the question, as long as you explain your reasoning. As a rule of a thumb, however, you should try to connect your future plans with their company. This can mean internal promotion, but also having the same job for a foreseeable future, when there are no obvious career growth opportunities.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting interview question. I tried to include in my selection answers for a variety of situations and jobs, including jobs nobody wants to have for longer than six months, as well as a couple of unconventional answers (philosophizing about vanity of planning in the uncertain world we live in), and also one answer that focuses primarily on goals and plans outside of work, and one answer for students (applying for a place in a study program instead of for a job). Go through them, think for a few seconds about each one, and pick one that resonates with you, and with the message you try to convey to the hiring managers.
7 sample answers to “What are your future plans?” interview question
- To be honest, I do not have any big plans. I would enjoy working as a receptionist in a nice hotel with a great management, just like this one. My future plans are having a job I enjoy doing, finding good life-work balance, foster good relationships both at work and in my personal life, and simply enjoy every day as it comes and goes. Of course, I plan to continue working on my language skills, because I want to become better in my work. But when it comes to the job, I do not dream of changing my career, or of anything similar.
- My future plans can be summed up in one sentence: to make a great career in this international corporation. Of course, I have some positions on my mind. A finance manager, later perhaps an FP&A director. As you can see I dare do dream big. At the same time, however, I realize I have to start here as an entry level financial analyst, learn the ins and outs of the job, prove my skills and dedication to work, and just then I can think of promotion and better jobs.
- My future plans are yet to be decided. I am still young, and trying to find my calling. It is one of the reasons why I apply for a job with your company–because it is very big, you have many departments, offices overseas, and I feel that options are almost endless here, of course as long as you try hard and do not mind sacrificing something for your job. What exactly I will do, however, and where I will end up living, I cannot tell now. But I am excited about the future, and without a doubt I will come up with some tangible plans down the road.
- Speaking honestly, I prefer to live in a present moment. Plans? God, I had many. You would not believe if I told you. But sometimes I wasn’t ready to pursue them, other times destiny stepped into my way. I learned the hard way that regardless of how hard we try, we never have things fully under our control. And it doesn’t matter whether we talk about personal life, or professional career. Future plans? They only bring me anxiety. Hence for the last few years I prefer living in the moment, focusing on the task at hand, and going with the flow. At the moment I try to get a job with your retail store. With my year of birth, however, no interview is easy anymore. I did what I could to prepare for this meeting. If I get the job, I will do my best every day, and let’s see what’s next. Living in the present is liberating.
- I plan to start a family in five years time. It is my biggest dream as a woman–to have kids, and to be a good mother. Of course, we never know what the future will bring, and you need two people for starting a family. But this is my plan for the future, and I will try my best to pursue it. Speaking about my professional career, I’d be happy to work as a secretary until then, and then return back after maternity leave… Is there anything else you’d like to know about my future goals and plans?
- I do not have any future plans. Had some in the past, things haven’t worked out, and I only ended up disappointed. In my opinion, when we fixate on something in the future–some object of our desire, be it another person, a job, or a nice thing we want to buy, such as a new house, our job and daily life becomes just a means to an end. We go to work and around our daily business just to achieve X and Y in the future. And that’s a recipe to depression and unhappiness. Why should we rob ourselves of the most precious thing we have–the present moment? I also learned that when we take care of the present, the future will take care of itself. What I try to convey here is that if I focus 100% on the task at hand, and do it well, and then repeat it again and again, there’s no doubt I will progress in my career. And that’s exactly what I try to do, and my way of living.
- My future plan is to become a great nurse. It is something I have been dreaming of for years. Now I am just applying for a place at a nursing school, and I know I have a long road ahead of me. But I see the meaningful purpose in this job, know what I want to achieve in life, and I hope it will drive me forward in my studies, and help me overcome the challenges I will undoubtedly face while trying to earn my degree.
Show some excitement for the future, or for the present
Regardless of whether you opt for conventional approach, or philosophize about the vanity of planing in the 21st century, they should hear some excitement in your voice. And it doesn’t matter what job you are applying for, and how far it is from your “dream career”.
Of course, the main reason why we go to work is the need to earn money to live. That’s how it works in life, and it likely won’t be any otherwise in the future. If you want to avoid sleeping on the street, you have to create some value for others (in your job, or in your business)–unless you were born in a golden cage, but you probably wouldn’t be reading this article in such a case…
The point I try to convey here is that employers do not want to hire pessimistic and bitter employees, who do not see anything positive about their future. Show some excitement for what’s ahead, your job with them, good things awaiting you in your life outside of work, and so on.
Make sure to have realistic future plans
Anything is possible and we can dream big, but you should try to keep it realistic in your interviews. For sure you can become a CEO of Tesla or General Electric one day. But it perhaps isn’t the best idea talking about such plans while you apply for an entry level role in these companies, or for a kitchen helper job at McDonald’s. It is just too farfetched.
Think about a position you can realistically have in a year, three years, five years, ideally within their organization, and focus on it while narrating your future plans. And if you are not sure, you can always opt for answer no. 4 or no. 6 on my list, focusing on present, and explaining why you prefer to do so.
Ready to answer this question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- How do you handle success?
- What is your greatest fear?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants for the job?