How to Answer Questions About the Future for Older Applicants

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Even though you’re a mature adult, you may find yourself on the job market. It’s tough enough for older workers to score new jobs, and even the interview can work against you. The interviewer may ask questions about where you see yourself in five or 10 years, which could be a way to determine how close you are to retirement. It’s important to answer these types of questions the right way, so here’s what to do when you’re faced with interview questions about the future as an older candidate.

Tips for Answering "Where Do You See Yourself..." for Older Applicants

Answering any question about your future can be tricky since the employer may be looking for someone who will be happy to stay in the position for which they are interviewing, and they also may be assessing your future potential. They don’t want to hire someone who’ll up and leave the job in just a short time.

But, what if you are planning on retiring sooner rather than later? The employer may be concerned about hiring someone who won’t stay with the company for long. You’ll need to be honest, but you can address this issue in a positive manner.

First, Be Sure to Share Your Interest in the Job

It’s important to reference what is most appealing to you about the job, as well as your interest in mastering that job for a reasonable period of time. The interviewer needs to realize you’re not interested in the job for just a short term.

If the job is one that an employee would normally hold for many years, then your focus should remain on how you would be eager to excel in that role and fully develop the knowledge and skills to add optimal value and grow within the company.

Then Let the Interviewer Know That You Want to Advance

If you wish to advance from that initial job, then you should research a typical career path evolving from the job for which you are applying. You can ask your interviewer about options for promotion once you have established yourself with the company.


By expressing interest in advancement, you will reassure your interviewer that you are looking to make a commitment to the company and your career, not just filling the time until you can retire.

For example, if you would like to advance from sales to sales management, you might express your high level of interest in expanding your product knowledge, developing strong relationships with clients, and expanding sales.

Then you could mention that, in the future, you would like to share what you will have learned with newer sales representatives and coach them toward success by taking on a role as a sales manager.

How to Handle the Interview When You Plan on Retiring

For older workers who are obviously closer to the normal retirement age, you have a decision to make as to whether to address this issue directly. It can be effective to say something like, "I love my work and certainly don't anticipate retiring within that time period.” You could then go on to speak specifically about what you would hope to accomplish during that five- or 10-year period.

It's true that no one, regardless of age, really knows for certain what they will be doing in five or 10 years. The trend today appears to be that seniors work longer before they retire than in the past. This may be due to economic factors or better health, so answer as honestly as you can without sabotaging your opportunities for employment.

More Interview Tips for Older Applicants

Be prepared for age discrimination issues. While it’s not legal for employers to discriminate against job candidates based on your age, it still may happen. You can be prepared for this possibility, though, by taking certain steps such as making a great first impression with your physical appearance and talking about how your experience is an asset. Review more job interview tips for older job seekers.

Review common job interview questions. It never hurts to consider what questions you may be asked and how to answer them. Review these job interview questions and answers and set aside some time to practice. Then look at these job interview tips.

Have questions ready to ask. Your interviewer needs to know that you’re interested in the new job, and one way to do that is to ask questions about the job and the company. Take some time to collect a few questions you can ask the interviewer.

Of course, before you get an interview, you’ll have to start your job search. These job search tips for older workers will help you get started on your new career journey.

Key Takeaways

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER REALLY WANTS TO KNOW: Interviewers ask older job candidates questions about their anticipated future in order to determine whether they are likely to stay with their company for a reasonable length of tenure.

EMPHASIZE YOUR CAREER PATH: A smart strategy for answering this question is to describe how you envision growing your skillset and advancing within the company should they hire you.

PLAN AHEAD OF TIME: Practice your response to questions about the future ahead of time so that you’ll be able to “spin” the question to your advantage. 

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  1. SHRM. "50 Years After Age Discrimination Became Illegal, It Persists," Accessed Sept. 10, 2019.

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