I'm a junior/grad software developer. With most interview questions, I can answer and have a reasonable idea of whether I gave a good answer or not. With this question, I know I'm not giving a disastrous answer, but I can't help feeling like I'm missing something.
When I'm asked this question I try and convey a couple of things:
- I want to become a better developer
- I want to stay in development (not go into management etc.) as it is the technical side of things that interests me
My honest answer to this question is very short: I want to do the same thing as I'm doing now, but be better at it. But I can't help feeling like this answer is missing something.
I'm not the sort of person who has my entire life mapped out ahead of me. Some of my friends knew their career plans back when we were picking GCSEs (age 16 exams) and chose their GCSEs, A-levels and university degrees based on that career path. I've always approached it from the other way around: keep doing the stuff you like doing. So I chose GCSEs out of the subjects I liked, A-levels out of the GCSEs I liked, a degree out of the A-level I liked best and finally a career out of the parts of my degree that I liked best.
So my personal answer would just be "I like coding. I want to keep coding." I'm quite early in my career, so the answer to "where do you see yourself in X years?" is simply "as a developer" for X≤5 and "no idea!" for X>5.
Do I have to have a plan? Does it matter if I don't? I'm actually quite happy not planning out the next ten years (or even five) of my career, but I can't think of a way to say that in a positive way.
Is there a hidden question within the question that I'm meant to be answering? I've read this answer to a similar question. Mostly, it tells me some things to avoid saying that I already wasn't saying. But I'm also not sure if "get better at this" counts as "having ambition"? Honestly, coding is my passion and becoming awesome at it really is my ambition. But I'm not sure if that's good enough?
I think I'm covered in terms of "things to avoid saying". But is there anything I should add to my answer? What do I need to get across that I'm not already?
And finally, should my answer change depending on X? I've been asked "1 year" and "10 years", as well as more middling values. (In actual fact, those were in the same interview, which is one reason why I think I might be answering wrong: I was asked "Where do you see yourself in a year's time?", gave the above answer and got countered with, "Well, okay, how about in ten years' time?")