Interview Questions: What are your future plans?

“Tell God your plans if you want to see him laugh.” It’s been proven over and over again that Woody Allen was correct. No matter how much we try to manage the future by making plans, dreaming, and hoping, we will never be truly successful. A pandemic breaks out, we get sick, or something good happens, like falling in love with a complete stranger, and we have to or want to alter our original plans.

What does this mean for you in terms of the interview, though? Should you wax philosophical about the unpredictability of life, or provide a clear and specific answer outlining your plans for the next six months, three years, and ten years? Both of these ways of approaching the question can be correct, provided that you justify your choice. However, as a general rule, you should make an effort to link your foreseeable future with their organization. Promotion from within the company is one example of this, but being stuck in one position with little chance of advancement is another.

Here are seven examples of how to respond to this engaging interview inquiry. It was important to me to include a wide range of perspectives in my final selection, so I made sure to include some less conventional responses (philosophizing about the futility of planning in the uncertain world we live in) as well as ones that focused more narrowly on personal aspirations and plans, as well as one specifically geared toward college students (applying for a place in a study program instead of for a job). Read through them, give each a few seconds of thought, and choose the one that best captures who you are and what you want to say to potential employers.

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Here are seven examples of how to respond to the interview question, “What are your future plans?”

  1. Honestly, at this time, I do not have any major plans. To be a part of a well-run establishment like this hotel’s front desk staff would be a dream come true for me. My goals for the future include doing meaningful work that I enjoy, striking a healthy work-life balance, cultivating meaningful relationships at work and in my personal life, and taking pleasure in each passing day. Naturally, I hope to further hone my linguistic abilities so that I may perform my duties to the best of my abilities. However, work-related fantasies, such as a career switch, do not enter my mind.
  2. I hope to build a successful career with this multinational firm in the years to come. Obviously I’m considering a few options. Somebody who works in finance; they might advance to director of FP&A one day. You can see that I am not afraid to aim high. But at the same time, I know that in order to advance my career and earn better paying positions, I need to start at the bottom as an entry-level financial analyst and work my way up through the ranks.
  3. I haven’t decided what I want to do in the future. Since I am still a young person, I am still searching for my niche in life. One of the main reasons I’m interested in working for your company is because of its size and the breadth of opportunities it provides, given one’s willingness to put in hard work and make some sacrifices along the way. I can’t say for sure what I’ll do with my life or where I’ll settle down just yet. The future excites me, though, and I know I’ll soon have some concrete plans to implement.
  4. Truthfully, I find it more enjoyable to focus on the here and now. Plans? My God, I had so many. If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. But sometimes I wasn’t ready to pursue them, other times destiny stepped into my way. Through painful experience, I realized that no matter how hard we try, we can never truly feel in command of any given situation. It makes no difference if the context is a person’s private life or their professional career. What are your plans for the future? They never do anything but cause me stress. As a result, I’ve come to value mindfulness, present-mindedness, and a general acceptance of whatever comes my way over the past few years. I am currently trying to secure employment with your store. As a result of my birth year, however, I can no longer expect a smooth job interview process. I’ve done everything in my power to be ready for this conference. If hired, you can count on me to give 110% every day; then we’ll see what happens. It’s freeing to focus on the here and now.
  5. In the next ten years, I hope to have a family of my own. Being a mother and a good provider for my children is my greatest aspiration as a woman. Of course, there’s no telling what the future holds, and a family can’t be started with just one person. However, I intend to follow this course in the years to come. Talking about my professional life, I’m content to be a secretary until then, and I plan to return to work after my maternity leave is over… Is there anything else I can tell you about my plans and aspirations for the future?
  6. I don’t have any plans for the future. I’ve tried them before and every time it’s ended in disappointment. When we have our sights set on a distant goal, whether it be a romantic partner, a promotion at work, or a material possession like a new home, I believe that the present moment and the tasks at hand become secondary. We do what we do every day with the sole intention of reaching our long-term goals of X and Y. 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.
  7. I hope to have a successful career as a nurse in the future. For a long time, this has been a goal of mine. I am just starting the application process for nursing schools, and I already know I have a long way to go. But I can see the value in this work, I know what I want to accomplish in life, and I am hopeful that this will motivate me to push through my studies and help me triumph over the obstacles I will undoubtedly face on the road to earning my degree.

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Exhibit a sense of anticipation, either for the future or the present.

They should detect enthusiasm in your voice whether you choose a tried-and-true method or engage in deep philosophical contemplation of the futility of planning in the twenty-first century. It also doesn’t matter if the job you’re applying for is far from your “dream career.”

We all have to work because we need to support ourselves and our families. This is just the way life is, and it probably won’t change anytime soon. Unless you were born in a golden cage (in which case, you probably aren’t reading this article), you need to create value for other people if you don’t want to sleep on the street.

The point I’m making is that businesses would rather not have to deal with unmotivated workers who have a negative outlook on life. Be enthusiastic about your future with the company, your role there, and the positive developments in your personal life.

Make sure your plans for the future are reasonable.

We can dream big and nothing is impossible, but you should try to be practical in your interviews. You will undoubtedly reach the position of chief executive officer at either Tesla or GE. If you’re applying for an entry-level position at one of these companies or for a kitchen helper position at McDonald’s, it might not be the best time to bring up such ambitions. This is completely unbelievable.

While outlining your plans for the future, it is important to focus on a position you can reasonably expect to hold in one year, three years, or five years, ideally within their organization. And if you’re still having trouble deciding, you can always go with either Option 4 or Option 6 from my list, both of which center on the present tense, and then give your reasons for going that route.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at

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