What's your 20/20?
“Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?”
Of all of the different interview questions I’ve used, this one is by far my favorite. It’s also almost invariably the first questions I’ll ask a new employee.
The beauty of this question is that you can call-out that the interviewee/employee most likely won’t be at the same company anymore in a completely reasonable way… Which in turn bypasses the standard and politically-correct answer of “I’d like to be a Director version of the Manager role I’m applying to now” in response to the more standard “Where do you see yourself in 3 years’ time?”.
The purpose of this is to try and draw out the moonshots in a person – It defers the purely practical elements of finding or starting a new job, and connects with the vision that drives them… Once you’ve found that thing, you can work on finding ways to plug it into what you’re building for your benefit AND theirs.
I also like it because of a truism and old friend and mentor taught me many years ago:
“You can achieve less than you think in a year and more than you think in a decade.”
In quintessential Australian style, this was a profoundly powerful encouragement packaged as a “pull ya head in” admonition. The admonition was for patience, and the encouragement was for the passionate and unabashed pursuit of potential.
I was reminded of all of this because today is 20 days from a brand new decade, the 2020s. Perfect vision is 20/20. There’s an agreeable symmetry to all of that.
The tick over from one year to the next is basically arbitrary, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to visit a salient question:
What’s YOUR vision and mission for the next ten years?