Ah, the age-old interview question; one that seems to crop up in pretty much every interview.
Yet we still seem to get taken aback by the question.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in the situation where my brain has gone into overload and I’ve ended up saying silly things like “oh you know, running this place” or “in your chair.”
So, the reason for this article is to provide guidance and tips on what you should say, along with the reasoning behind your answer, but also what you should avoid saying.
What do interviewers mean when they ask “where do you see yourself in five years”?
So what are they actually trying to gain from posing this question to you and how is it really related to the job that you are interviewing for?
It is used to gauge your credibility, reliability, work ethic and whether you have the drive to remain at the company.
They want to make sure that you are going to remain with the company if you are hired.
Particularly if you have gone through a recruitment agency, they will want to make sure that you will be a good ‘investment’.
But even if you’ve been hired directly, they’re not going to want to take someone on, train them and then lose them in the first few months!
Plus, the interviewer wants to gauge your work ethic, ambition and whether you have or know what your long-term goals are.
Importantly, do they fit in with the progression scheme that the company offers?
If there is not much room to progress, for example, they will want to know if you will be happy to remain in the same position, for let’s say oh… “5 years”.
What shouldn’t you say?
This is a serious question and if you have any hopes of passing the interview stage, I highly recommend avoiding any of the following:
Claim to fame
Jokes (or even serious statements) about being famous, or taking their job (even if you have had an informal, friendly interview it wouldn’t be wise to step on the interviewer’s toes).
Don’t say you have plans outside of the company (for example, that you want to go back to university or travel the world) – you are highlighting that you are not willing to stay at the company, or you may be taking a break from employment.
Saying nothing at all. The interviewer will expect you to have prepared for this interview question because it’s a common one. Not saying anything will add nothing to your credibility.
So, now we need to ensure that you have a concise, focused answer that will go down well with the hiring manager.
Remember, what they are actually asking is “what are your career goals in this position?”
How should you answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
What you really want to get across with your answer is:
- That you are excited about the position.
- That you want to learn and progress at the company.
- And also why you’ll be the best person for the job!
Not much to ask right?
Here are three good examples:
“I’ve read a lot about the internal training schemes available for the successful new [job title]. It was one of the main things that attracted me to the position.
It looks like this would be an amazing opportunity to learn and achieve my goal of becoming “project manager” in the not so distant future.
I understand that that will take hard work and dedication, but I feel with determination and the support your company offers, I could achieve this goal within the next 5 years.”
“I’m looking to settle down in a company and job I love right now.
I’m looking to join a vibrant, growing business where there are clear opportunities for growth and when I’m ready, I’d love to eventually put my people skills to good use in a management position.”
“Over the next five years, I would like to learn as much as I possibly can about digital marketing, improving my skills in social media, website development and SEO.
Using these skills I’d like to make a positive contribution to your company and where appropriate take on more responsibilities and potentially become part of the senior team.”
These kinds of answers will highlight to the hiring manager that you are content, and happy with the position exactly as it is, but that you are ambitious to make a positive contribution to their business, whilst moving your career forward.
So, all you have to remember is:
- Be serious.
- Be realistic.
- And be honest too! You don’t want to join a company that can’t actually offer you what you want!
Hope you found this helpful.
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