Chances are if you are interviewing you will be asked the question, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
This question can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare.
The trick to making this question your best friend is to have a well thought out answer before your interview.
There are only three things you need to focus on when someone asks this question:
- Is your answer professional?
- Is it relevant to the job you are applying for?
- Does your answer express an interest in career progression?
Keep It Professional
When answering where you see yourself in 5 years, the employer is not interested in hearing about:
- your living arrangements
- the number of kids you plan to have
- or anything about your personal life.
If this question is asked in a professional setting, guess what?
It requires a professional answer!
In other words, they are essentially asking “Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?”
If you answer about how many kids you plan to have by then, the employer might be a little dumbfounded.
Keep It Relevant
Relevance is key!
This question, along with many other interview questions, is somewhat of a trap.
They are asking you where you see yourself in 5 years for a reason.
Many interviewers want to make sure that your goals are in line with those of the company.
What if you have expectations of where you will be in 5 years that the company cannot accommodate?
For both you and the employer, that could be a red flag.
It is important to align your goals with that of the company.
Make sure to do research on the company before your interview!
This will help you determine whether or not your long-term goals align.
While we are on this topic check out a similar question, "What Is Your Dream Job?"
Keep It Focused on Career Progression
The kind of answer not to give
Showing career progression is just about as important as everything else.
Let’s say you show up to an interview and your answer to where do you see yourself in 5 years is:
"Well, if I get this job I see myself doing this job for the next 5 years."
You can pretty much guarantee you won’t be getting an offer.
Any employer wants to hire someone whose goals are to learn and grow as well as excel in his or her position.
Some characteristics this response shows are:
- Unmotivated by personal growth
- Adding to career-related knowledge
- Doesn’t care if they receive a promotion within a 5-year period
Giving this type of response is not going to impress your employer.
If you don’t expect to grow within the company, then your only motivation seems to be getting paid.
So, what kind of response do you want to give?
The kind of response you want to give
The kind of response shown above does not exactly scream, “I want to progress in my career!”
It pretty much says, “I’ll take anything I can get and your company will work fine.”
Not the kind of answer you want to give.
So what kind of response will make you stand out from the pack?
Here’s a sample answer for, "Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?"
“My goal is to be the best at what I do and work somewhere where I’ll have opportunities to learn and develop my skills, work on exciting new projects, and be a part of an amazing team who can coach me and help me grow.
I believe that some of the most innovative creators work here and that’s a big reason why I would love to start my future at XYZ Company.”
This is the type of response that says:
- I am interested!
- I am excited!
- I am motivated!
To be clear, this is what you want your response to say.
Being excited about your work means you care about your job and you're probably going to do your best.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
Why Do Interviewers and Hiring Managers Ask This Question?
The reason is a bit more obvious than many other interview questions.
This goes back to relevance.
They want to see if your goals five years from now align with their goals.
After five years with the same company, you’ve probably:
- Had a promotion.
- Gotten a pay raise.
- Made connections.
- Accumulated quite a bit of career-based knowledge.
A job applicant who wants to be a globe-trotting artist in five years when they’re applying for a sales position does not have goals that align with the company’s goals.
It’s not a good match.
Because the company is not helping you progress and you aren’t passionate about your work at the company.
Plus if you have other plans, you probably won’t be around for very long anyway.
The employer wants someone invested in the goals of the company.
The employer wants you to grow in the company, too.
You can’t do this if you’re not motivated by common interests and love for your work.
Prepare for Your Next Interview
If you’re reading this, chances are you want to do your very best on that next interview.
This is an important question, so don’t get us wrong.
But there are also several other interview questions you should take the time to consider as well.
Check out our article, 50 Top Job Interview Questions and Answers.
Chances are you won’t be asked all fifty.
However, it’s always a good idea to at least skim possible questions and reflect on them a bit.
Many questions (like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”) have to do with you and your career objective.
So it’s a good idea to think about them not just to prepare for an interview.
But so you have a good idea of what you want!
Need Some Help?
Are you are still unsure where you see yourself in five years?
Or are you just having trouble articulating it?
We’d be happy to help.
Check out Find My Profession!
Contact us today and see how we can help land your dream job.