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How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

A crystal ball won’t tell you where you’ll be in 5 years. Prepare yourself for a job interview instead, and learn how to answer the “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” question.

Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Career Expert
How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

Abstract: "Where do you see yourself in five years" is one of the most common questions asked during job interviews. Recruiters ask this question because they want to find out whether the candidate is thinking about their career, or if they’re only looking for a job. They want to check whether the candidate’s goals are in line with the goals of the organization.

The recruiter's eyes are on you. 

 

You have their undivided attention. 

 

You need to be confident and serious.

 

And then BAM!

 

Just when you thought you’d get away without having to answer one of the most dreadful interview questions EVER...

 

The bomb drops.

 

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

 

But don’t worry…

 

There is a right way to answer this one, and thank goodness, you got here on time.

 

In this article, you’ll find:

 

  • What interviewers mean when they ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • The best answer to “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” that will impress employers.
  • Examples of answers for the “Where do I see myself in 5 years” question.

 

Get ready for your interview

If only you could have a practice run of your next job interview...

With us, you can. Find out exactly how to answer the toughest interview questions. Practice your responses until you're sure they're perfect. Find your confidence, ace your interview, and land your dream job!

Get ready for your interview

 

Need more advice before your next interview? Check these out:

 

 

Still not landing any interviews? Write a resume that will catch the attention of recruiters and finally land you that job:

 

 

1. “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Interview Question

 

When interviewing for a new job, chances that you’ll be asked the legendary "Where do you see yourself in five years?" question is high.

 

And this is one of those questions that paralyzes most of us.

 

“How am I supposed to know what will happen to me in 5 years? That’s sooo in the future!” 

 

And yes, you’re right.

 

Five years is very hard to predict—even for companies, who don’t know where they’ll be in two or three years. 

 

Similarly, it’s impossible to predict what will happen to you next year, let alone five years (unless you have some kind of future foreseeing superpowers).

 

And you know what?

 

Recruiters don’t want you to do that.

 

So what are they expecting to find out after asking this question?

 

Why do Recruiters Ask the Question: “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?” During Job Interviews?

 

By asking this question, the recruiter is not trying to trick you or test your fortune-telling skills. 

 

They’re actually hoping to be reassured about your ability to project yourself into the company. 

 

What they really want to know is: 

 

  • Will this candidate leave us as soon as we train him? 
  • Will this candidate become bored? 
  • Will they be able to integrate? 
  • Do they fit the company culture?
  • Is this candidate ambitious? Motivated? 

 

In order to prepare your response as well as possible, start by finding out as much as you can about the position and the opportunities offered by the company. Does it present opportunities for development? What are the company values? 

Expert Hint: Studies show that employees who fit well with their company, colleagues, and superiors had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and demonstrated high job performance.

2. Preparing to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

 

Questions about your future plans can be difficult to answer—no matter what job you’re interviewing for.

You need to be honest, but also keep it relevant to the job and the industry. 

 

For example, don't share your five-year goal of publishing a novel if you're interviewing for an IT job.

 

“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?” Bad Answer

WRONG ANSWER

My long term goal is to leave the world of IT and focus on my writing. I am currently working on a novel which has piqued the interest of a few agents. I hope I will sign with someone soon.

That’s a walloping no-no.

 

If you answer incorrectly, or if your response is vague, the employer might believe that you’re simply not invested in your career, that you’re not a good fit for the company, or that you’re hiding something.

 

So in order to answer this merciless question, you’ll want to have a solid, detailed response prepared. 

 

When preparing for your interview:

 

  • Really think about your situation and your personality.
  • Research the company to find out what their mission and values are.
  • Tailor your answer to the company and job opening you are interviewing for. 

 

Now: 

 

The first step in preparing to answer this question is recognizing the structure and scale of the company you are applying to. 

 

If it’s a 4-person family business, exaggerated ambition and pushing for over-the-top development may scare off an employer who probably won’t be able to guarantee you development on a grand scale. 

 

If, on the other hand, you’re applying to a large corporation—you can go a little more crazy and talk about your visions of climbing the corporate ladder.

 

The safest thing to say is that your main goal for the coming years is to get to know the industry perfectly and to become a valued specialist within the position you’re applying for.

 

So, how to properly craft your answer? 

 

3. How To Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years”—Examples

 

Here are answer examples and ideas for how to answer “Where do You See Yourself in 5 Years”: 

 

1. Describe a Career Path

 

In order to be well-prepared for this question, look for a reasonable career path that will flow from the position you are applying for. How much time do people usually spend in this job? What will your next steps be?

RIGHT ANSWER

I look forward to developing my clinical skills as a member of this unit. I have noticed that many nursing assistants are moving up to nurse managers, which is something I would be very interested in as part of my five-year plan. 

2. Focus On Your Career Aspirations

 

Not all jobs have the possibility to move on to higher positions. For example, in industries such as consulting, sales, event panning, and software development, it is perfectly appropriate to focus on mastering the job and becoming an expert at what you do.

 

For example, when interviewing for a sales job, you might say:

RIGHT ANSWER

In five years I would like to be recognized as an expert in product knowledge, have very close customer relationships developed, and significantly expand the customer base in my area.

3. State Your Goals

 

Stating your goals in terms of the results you want to achieve is another angle of response. So, for example, a potential teacher who want to try to improve performance on standardized tests might say:

RIGHT ANSWER

I would like to significantly increase the percentage of students who read at or above grade level through creative teaching methods.

4. Say What Interested You in the Position

 

It is often beneficial to emphasize your interest in mastering the position well before moving on. After all, the hiring manager will likely want someone who will be happy and competent in this role for at least a year or two. Incorporating a clear rationale into your response about how your interests and skills are a good fit for the position will help alleviate concerns about how long you'll want to stay at work.

RIGHT ANSWER

One of the things that attracted me to this job was the ability to do many different things. As an administrative assistant ate your real estate agency, I know that I would be able to develop my customer service skills as well as have a chance to use my web design skills to refine the Company Website. I am also excited to learn more about the some of the most reputable agents in the industry. 

5. Focus On Personal Development

 

Your goals don't all have to have something to do with the company, but they should definitely show your motivation and passion. 

RIGHT ANSWER

It’s important to continuously develop myself further and to expand both my specialist knowledge and my soft skills. In five years, I would like to have become an integral part of the company and have already implemented many exciting projects with my teammates, thereby helping the company move forward. 

6. Tell Them About Your Hunger for Innovation

 

If you’re interviewing with a startup, you can (and HAVE TO) talk about how excited you are for working for such an innovative team. Tell them how your skills will help develop new strategies and ideas, and that this particular job opportunity will be a great way for you to exercise your creativity and innovation.

RIGHT ANSWER

The industry is growing and developing very quickly, and I want to be part of these innovations. In five years, I could imagine that my colleagues and I are looking forward to a successfully completed project that we have implemented through numerous innovations. Since I see your company as one of the best in the industry, it would make me very proud to learn from the best of the best and to support the team with my skills and ideas.

Now you’re ready to beat the competition, even if the interviewer surprises you with one of the most dreaded questions in the world!

 

Remember to always be truthful when answering questions and keep in mind all the do’s and don'ts of job interviews.

 

Key Points

 

Here’s everything you need to know about the  “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?” job interview question:

 

  • Always keep in mind that the interviewer is not trying to trick you or confuse you; they just want to know if you’ll fit the company culture.
  • When answering this question, impress the employer with your knowledge about the organization and their mission.
  • Tell them what motivates you to do a good job.
  • Prepare, smile and do your homework!

 

Thanks for reading! Still not sure how to answer "Where do you see yourself in 5 years"? Perhaps you have some tested strategies of your own on how to answer this interview question? Let us know in the comments, we're ready to chat! 

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Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra is a career expert with a solid professional background in various industries. At ResumeLab, she shares her knowledge, insights and expertise with all applicants looking to make a career move with a perfect resume and cover letter that guarantee recognition and success.

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