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.