How to answer “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

The question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” can be extremely difficult to answer. What do you need to know to give your best response to this question?



Table of Contents

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  2. What do interviewers want to know when they ask “Wheredo you see yourself in five years?”
  3. How to research "Where do you see yourself in five years?"
  4. Important elements to include in the answer
  5. FAQ: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Landing  an interview for a new job is a great feeling. It means you’ve made it past the “first round” of the application process. However, it also means you need to prepare for a wide variety of interview questions. Understanding how to answer common interview questions helps you gain a better understanding of how you can succeed at  the interview and land the new job. Along with “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to work here?” questions, one question that is asked frequently is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Here’s how you can answer that question for every job interview.

What do interviewers want to know when they ask “Wheredo you see yourself in five years?”

Every question an interviewer asks you has a reason, and  Getting a better understanding of that reasoning will help you determine what your answer should be. In general, interviewers ask about your future goals because they want to know these things about you:

  • Whether you want to stay with the company
  • Whether your career goals make sense
  • Whether you care about the company

Think about it this way. If a hiring manager asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and you reply, “I don’t know,” it shows that you don’t have career aspirations. If you say, “I want to be working at [a different company],” it shows that this job isn’t very important to you, and you might move on to the next job at any time.

Your five-year plan is one of the most common job interview questions because the recruiter is looking for someone who is committed to the job, has future goals and isn’t just using this job as a stepping stone for a different one. Even if you don’t plan to stay with this job forever, and you have a dream job elsewhere, you still need to know how to make yourself appear as the perfect candidate for this position using your answer.

How to research "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

It’s important that you tailor the answer to this question based on the company you’re applying for. You want to showcase that you’re hoping to use the new skills and concepts you’ve learnt as part of the company to help you in your long-term career goals. Here are a few things you can do for this research:

  • Look at career paths inside the company
  • See what the company prides itself on
  • Look at the job description itself
  • Check for training programmes the company offers

Remember, the company is looking for job seekers who are going to agree with the company’s mission and help the company reach its business goals. If you want the job offer, you need to showcase that you’re going to work hard for the company and learn what is necessary to advance your position within the company.

Important elements to include in the answer

When you answer this question, there are typically three things you’ll want to include.

First,  mention that you want to grow with the company. Example answers very typically include the fact that you don’t just want to be a new employee — you want to be a permanent team member. If you’re applying for a sales representative job, a good answer might be to say something like, “I’d love to start as a sales manager at this company and eventually be promoted to a project management position as I develop my skills on the floor.”

Second, mention the work you plan on doing to benefit the company. An answer along these lines may sound like, “I want to help this company develop better outreach options for sales representatives. I really hope to bring the same skills I used at my last job and hone them even further to become the best representative on the floor.” No need to be too detailed with the answers; just communicate the general areas where you can make a difference.

Finally, talk about developing your skills. To incorporate this option, consider an answer like, “I saw that you have options to help sales representatives with attending college. In five years, I want to have my bachelor’s degree in Communications, which I hope to use to create a better understanding of the sales world.” Not only does this showcase that you want to continue developing, but it also shows that you researched the company’s offerings.

FAQ: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Q: What should I avoid when answering the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

The most important things to avoid are ultra-specific answers, answers that imply or state that you’ll move on to another company. Even worse, don’t answer, “I don’t know.” Your answer should give yourself some wiggle room, but it should still be an achievable goal. A realistic goal is better than having no goal.

Q: Do I need to make a concrete plan to answer the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

You don’t need to have a fully concrete plan to answer this question. However, it’s good to be thinking about your future and where you hope to see yourself in your future career. You don’t have to have everything set up in advance but you should at least have a general idea about where you see yourself in five years.

Q: How else might an interviewer ask this question?

There are many ways that an interviewer may ask you this question, including these:

  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What are your general goals?
  • What are your goals over the next five to 10 years?
  • What will you be doing in five to 10 years?
  • What is your ultimate goal?

Although you don’t need concrete career plans to answer any of these questions, some may lend themselves to answering about longer-term goals than others. Take some time to think about these questions prior to a job interview. Prepare to generally talk about your career goals to answer any iteration of these questions.


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