It can be difficult to juggle the need for spontaneity and open-mindedness with having to plan for your future. It's a pretty scary thought - where will you be in 5 years?
Whatever the variation; “what are your long term career goals?”, “what plans do you have for the future?" etc. if you’re heading for a job interview, that’s probably a reason to sit down and think about where you see your career heading. It’s likely they’re going to ask you about it.
It can be a good thing. Understanding your direction will help you make the right decisions to get you to where you want to be. That being said, 5 years, that’s quite a long way off.
No interviewer expects full clarity but it helps to be prepared.
Just remember these things if someone pops that interview question:
Reassure the interviewer you are invested in that career path
Let’s face it, a lot of time, effort (and often money) goes into hiring people. Letting the interviewer know you’re going to be around for a while and that their effort will pay off, is often all they really want to hear.
Do some research into the company structure
You could really WOW the interviewer with your knowledge of the company. Express how you’d like to be in a certain role that is attainable, maybe even name the person who is currently in that position to really show off your forward thinking.
Body language and enthusiasm can say a lot. Sometimes it’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it.
Ultimately, the worst thing you can say is “I don’t know". So stear clear of that.