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I take a lot of inspiration from one of the Directors I have worked with in the past. I wish to transition into such a position in the future. However this is still a long way ahead and I see a lot of room for improvement.

When asked in an interview what my long term (5+) goals were, I mentioned that I would ideally like to become a Director in my areas of competency. The interviewer who was really being a good listener until that point moved on to next question without a chance for me to elaborate. I felt that this must be because of the way I told him about what I wanted to become.

So I must ask if there is a better way to communicate your long term goals.

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How to communicate long term goals without seeming overly ambitious?

normalocity's advice is what I would have said for your specific case; normally, when interviewing asking such a question is not so much to hear a detailed plan of your future, but to ascertain that you are thinking in and interested in developmening.

More generally, I would use a few guiding principles:

  • Be selective about the long term goals you have; ultimately, not all of them are compatible with the company and you should avoid mentioning these.
  • In contrast - do absolutely bring up those to which your opportunity would contribute and more to the point highlight this fact.
  • Be prepared to talk honestly about your goals. Have goals in the first place by preparing. In short, do not avoid communicating your goals by saying something like "I do not have any".
  • Be realistic about your goals and their timeframe. Nothing wrong with being ambitious; for example, it's perfectly acceptable to say "I would like, eventually, to work at directorship level, but clearly I need first to gain some interesting experience".

In short, what you're doing here is selectively presenting goals which are well planned goals - i.e. those laid out carefully against guidelines such asSMART. Chances are, if your goals follow such principles, you will not come across as over ambitious.

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I think you're over-thinking it. From an interviewer's standpoint, there's really any number of reasons you could transition from one question to another, including the idea that you felt the person answered the question very satisfactorily.

Without direct feedback on your performance (from the person observing and reacting to the behavior), you can't worry about trying to read their mind. If you feel comfortable asking for feedback (and especially do this any time you get hired at a job - follow up with the recruiter/employee who interviewed you on what went well, and take notes), then absolutely ask for feedback. Don't try to read minds.

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