Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

In an interview, you may be asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This is a question regarding your future ambitions or goals. Employers frequently use this question to learn more about how well this position fits into your broader career goals.

You might or might not know exactly where you want to be in five years. In either case, there are a few suggestions you may use to answer where you see yourself in five years in a way that shows your excitement for the position and impresses your interviewer.

So, What are Interviewers Asking?

Well, when interviewers ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” They’re really asking, “What are your career goals within this position?”

They want to know that the position will satisfy you and that you’ll work hard and stay with the company for a long time.

Remember, a hiring manager’s success doesn’t depend on how many empty chairs she can fill with warm bodies.

Her success depends on keeping talented employees happy and at work. If you leave, it will cost her company time and money. 

So, the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” interview question is how interviewers ask if you will stay in the job. 

The Right Way to Answer the Question

You’re enthusiastic about the job and what you’ll learn over the next few years. You want to be the greatest at what you do and advance to the next level when the time comes.

I aim to finish the internal training program for my role in five years. I learned about it on your website and think it’s a fantastic initiative.

Not only would I receive all of the necessary training for my position, but I would also be on my way to becoming a project manager.

That is my primary career objective. In addition, my dream route would entail a couple of years of working abroad. I understand how important it is for you to discover folks who are willing to help.

You want to leave the recruiting manager with the idea that you’re happy in your current position. However, you should have a real eagerness for development.

Also, demonstrate that your long-term career aspirations coincide with the companies. They’re looking for people who want to work in another country.

You’re keen to work in another country. Doesn’t it sound like a match made in heaven?

Wrong Way of Answering the Question

You’re eager to use the position to advance your career as quickly as feasible. In five years, you want to be the company’s CEO. That is all.

My long-term career ambition is to become the company’s CEO. “Never settle for less than your best,” my mother often reminded me. As a result, I intend to claw my way to the top!

The best responses to the interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” are ambiguous and realistic.

Telling the interviewer you desire to be CEO is a bad idea. And never, ever imply you’ll work for them in five years.

Example of How to Answer Question?”

Let’s imagine your job has no clear career path, or you’re not sure what you want to accomplish in the long term.

You should keep things ambiguous yet reasonable. That’s right, it’s ambiguous. The one interview question for which you should prepare a bland response is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years.”

It’s like when you’re on a date, and the guy asks if you’ll ever want kids or a wedding. He wants to know if you’re on the same page.

So, here’s the thing. Let’s say you like the guy. You need to come up with an answer that will satisfy his concerns and show you’re cool with commitment for now.

You’ll want to follow the same rules when discussing your future during a job interview. 

Variations of “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

Here are some variations of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

  • Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Describe your career goals.
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What are your short-term career goals?
  • What are your goals for the next 5 years?
  • What is your ideal job at the peak of your career?
  • What are you looking for by applying for this job?
  • How do you define success?
  • What’s most important to you in your career?

What are My Career Goals?

What are My Career Goals?

What specific steps will you take/are you taking to achieve your vision of yourself in the next 5 years? Do they have anything to do with the open position? Make a list of possible career goals and objectives.

Now, make a list of some long-term career ambitions and aspirations that could arise from this position. It’s fine if they don’t match your five-year career goals.

After that, you’ll need to do some background study on the company and the open position.

Here’s What You’re Looking for

A few things you could look at are Career Paths for the Position, Training and Development Opportunities, Shared Values, and Interesting Projects.

Let’s use Procter and Gamble as an example. 

P&G is your typical big corporation. As such, they have a dedicated career website that allows you to check out career paths.

Let’s say your dream job is to work in sales at P&G. You want to stay there for a long time. The company boasts that they have “one of the world’s best sales training programs.”  

So, you read more about the way P&G trains employees. You find out that P&G personalizes training for each employee.

They also provide mentoring and networking opportunities. Plus, you notice that the training equals real projects and assignments at an early stage. Make a list of all the things you find attractive.

For example, Personalized Training, Mentoring, Networking, Real Projects, and Assignments

When you notice such a wealth of information, stick with what you find. Refer to one of the things you admire in your “where do you see yourself in 5 years” answer. 

Sales are now considered a job that does not guarantee advancement. For many professionals, this is true.

Teachers and therapists are some examples. These are occupations where you work with clients and improve your skills.

In that situation, your long-term career goal examples should focus on job advancement.

Right Approach

Use the information provided by the company.

One of the reasons I want to work with P&G is that your individualized training method appeals to me. I’m looking forward to working with a mentor and learning new skills.

I’m also the type of employee who prefers to hit the ground running and go right into projects. As a result, I envision myself taking on as many complex jobs as the role allows during the next five years.

By the end of that time, I hope to have established long-term client ties. I’d want to point out that I’m one of the team’s top salespeople.

When the time comes, I’d like to become someone who can train and mentor others as well.

The candidate’s response focuses on the P&G training program research she conducted. She then goes on to explain where she sees herself in five years in response to the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years.”

Everything she says is pertinent to the job, realistic, and useful. She’s full of energy. She declares her dedication to the organization and the sales role.

Wrong Approach

Without doing research, you describe a specific career path that isn’t available. Within a few months, I see myself as a well-established Sales Associate.

I’m a quick learner who doesn’t require extensive training. After that, I’d like to work as a manager.

I want to be the Sales Team Leader or Managing Director in five years.

Make the mistake of expecting that making major career success will take only 5 years. You might raise red flags. If you’re not happy with the rate of your advancement, the interviewer might presume you’ll depart.

Furthermore, the candidate does not appear to be well-prepared. P&G is proud of its training program.

The candidate touts that she is self-taught. The interviewer may conclude that she is unsuitable for the position.

Let’s say your investigation yields little. There isn’t much information available about the company’s job opportunities.

And you’re not sure what prospects for advancement you’ll have within the company. Are any of your personal career objectives compatible with the job?

Assume they don’t. Assume you recognize this position as a stepping stone. Maybe you’re just looking for something to help you get by till you finish grad school.

You should try to ask yourself these few questions

A Few Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Is there any training I could do outside of work that would be relevant to the position?
  • Are there any classes I could take that would enhance my skill set?
  • Could I learn any new, handy skills from this job?
  • Does the company do any projects that interest me?
  • Does the company have some long-term goals that align with mine?
  • Be sure to keep your answer for the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question brief and general. 
  • Talk about how you want to develop yourself as a professional in the context of the position. 

For example, you want to learn an extra, relevant skill that will complement your role. Or you’re interested in taking some general leadership or writing classes.

You can always mention that you want to develop your skill set. 

At the same time, avoid implying that you’re preparing for something bigger and better in the future. 

Right

Discuss long-term goals related to the company and the position. I want to expand my skill set as a marketing professional. I aim to be able to utilize software like Photoshop or InDesign by the end of the next five years.

I’d like to improve my knowledge of social media and video marketing. In addition, I’d like to work in project management.

I’d like to gain experience on the job. Regardless, I’m considering taking some online or evening classes. My aim is that I will be able to use my new talents in my work with you.

The candidate identifies a few abilities she would want to improve. Choose abilities that are already well-developed for the position.

Wrong

Discuss long-term goals that have you moving on to bigger and better opportunities.

I aspire to have gone on to a much larger organization in five years, where I can put the talents I’ve learned here to use.

Six years of experience and a well-developed skill set are required. This role will serve as a stepping stone toward a career with the big boys.

Your answer to the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” should not include any information regarding leaving. Don’t bring up starting a business, joining a band, or changing jobs.

Another consideration is that you might be the type of job seeker that raises red flags. For example, you’ve only been at your past three jobs for six months, or you’ve had gaps in your professional progression.

It’s more likely that you’ll get the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question or a variation of it.

In your job hunt, you might face different scenarios—be prepared for all of them:

When You Don’t Have Information About the Company

Situation One - No Information on the Company

The company doesn’t have a clear path forward for employees in my position. Here’s how to answer the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question when you don’t know much about the company.

Correct Answer

Stick to a response that focuses on how you want to develop a relevant skillset.

I want to expand my skill set as a chef. I want to know how to create and present food for a 5-star restaurant like yours at the end of the next five years. If possible, I’d like to complete some specific managerial training.

To do this, I’ve decided to devote some of my leisure time to courses and online training. I hope that my new abilities will enable me to claim that I am the best at my job at Le Bone A Petit.

Always remember to indicate how you want to improve a relevant skillset outside of work. Avoid going overboard.

The interviewer may believe you will discover something more interesting to do than your job.

Wrong Answer

Talk about side projects that might result in you moving to your dream job. I want to finish my side project in the next five years.

My pastime is creating mobile games. I’m currently working on one that I should have finished in the next year or two. That is my true calling.

Bring up personal information with caution once more. In this case, the candidate has revealed she is working on a time-consuming side project.

Her project is very important to her. As a result, the interviewer may believe that the candidate is more interested in it than in her current position.

When You’re Using the Position as a Stepping Stone

Assume you are familiar with the company’s job opportunities. However, you only utilize the job as a stepping stone or a short-term remedy. Maybe all you need is something to get you through grad school.

As a result, the optimal response to the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” should contain long-term commitment guarantees. But wait, it doesn’t sound right. You should never, ever lie in an interview.

The idea, after all, is to discover something you can get behind, even if you do wind up quitting within the following five years.

Consider staying in your current role for five years. Customize your response to reflect what you’d do in that situation.

Correct Answer

I saw you have a young accountant staff training program. I want to finish such a program during my first or second year with you.

In addition, one of my professional career aspirations is to work on a non-profit project. So, at the end of five years, I’d like to have completed at least a couple of such projects.

Wrong Answer

So, after being laid off from my previous work as an administrative assistant, I’ve decided to venture into the corporate world. Startup culture has always piqued my interest.

But when I saw a job offer from a Fortune 500 business, I figured, why not? In the worst-case scenario, I can always check off working for a corporation from my bucket list.

It’s critical to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job. In this case, the candidate does not demonstrate true excitement for the job or the firm.

She is unsure if she will enjoy working there, which may lead her to leave sooner rather than later.

When You’re in the Middle of Switching Your Career

Assume you’re in the process of changing careers. You have no idea where you’ll be in five years because you’re still attempting to figure it out.

You do have one edge in that you already know you want to do the job you’re interviewing for. As a result, you might state in your “where do you see yourself in 5 years” response that you want to be completely established in your new career.

Right Answer

I’m applying for a marketing role because I’d like to take a more creative path in my career. Because I have a legal background, I am confident I would be most productive in a law firm.

My legal knowledge can assist me in my work. That should offer me an advantage over someone who began in a different field. At the same time, I need to make a transition.

So, in this entry-level employment, I want to improve my creative skillset over the following five years. So, my long-term goal is to work for your organization as a skilled marketing specialist.

As a career changer, it’s not a terrible idea to start by explaining the long-term goals driving you.

The candidate then switches gears. She explains what she plans to do over the next five years within the position.

Wrong Answer

My greatest ambition is to have launched my restaurant by then. I’m also studying for the bar exam, which I want to pass in the coming year.

As a result, I believe that working in marketing for a law firm is a good career aim right now. My goal is to make law my safety job. In case nothing else, I have planned works out.

The candidate has ambitions that go beyond the job. That’s fantastic, but keep it a secret from the interviewer. Five years from now?

Well, I’m not sure. I’m not the sort to plan. I prefer to be in the moment, which is why I’m changing occupations and attempting new endeavors. In five years, I’ll be 30.

I could be a different person. I have no idea where I will be in five years. I just hope that wherever I am, it’s warm!

Avoid saying “I don’t know” as a response to the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question.

Also, don’t make it sound like you could be anywhere. My five-year plan is to be the CFO of a major corporation.

And with the giant salary I will be given for my services, I will buy a summer home in South Carolina.

After which, I will buy whatever the latest model of Mercedes-Benz is at the time. And if you think that’s impressive, you should ask about the ten-year plan.

Don’t alert the interviewer to the fact that you have long-term goals to work somewhere else.

Also, be aware that if you make it obvious that you’ll outgrow their puny company in the near future, they may decide you’re not a good fit.

Why Employers Ask This Question

Why Employers Ask Where You See Yourself in 5 Years

The interviewer isn’t expecting you to know where your job or life will be in five years when they ask you this question.

Nobody will come to your aid. You could not even be working for the same company. So it doesn’t matter if your long-term goals prediction is correct.

All that counts is that you give a decent answer that leads to a job offer, which you can do by emphasizing key characteristics that the interviewer is looking for and demonstrating to employers that you’re a good fit for their position and organization.

What Hiring Managers Want to Hear 

They want to hear that you’ve considered your long-term objectives and plans and are concerned about your professional development.

Since that indicates you’ll work more, have a better attitude, and be more motivated at their organization.

They want to make sure you’re goal-oriented and ambitious in general.

They want to know that you’re interested in the exact type of work they’re searching for and that you’re not just applying for any job you can find.

Which is why they ask the question, “Why are you applying for this position?”

If you don’t show employers that you’ve put thought into what direction your career is going and/or if you can’t show that your goals align with the job you’ve applied for, it’s going to cost you job offers.

And if you seem like you don’t really want their specific position, they won’t hire you either.

Employers have a LOT of applicants to choose from and almost always pick a candidate who has specific reasons for wanting their job.

This means researching the company before your interview and being ready to name a few things that excite you about the job description, the company’s overall mission, the industry, etc.

How to Give the Perfect Answer

Here’s the absolute worst thing you can do: Respond in a way that makes you appear as if you haven’t given it much thought or as if you don’t have any long-term job plans.

Employers want to know that the person they’re hiring is goal-oriented, motivated, and concerned about their long-term career and prospects.

1. Think About Where You’d Actually Like to Be in 5 Years of Your Career

Nothing sounds worse than saying, “Wow, I haven’t thought about that. I have no idea.” And you also don’t want to draw a blank and say, “Um, let me think.”

So, thinking about this will prepare you to talk confidently about the topic.

2. Make Sure You Sound Slightly Ambitious

You don’t want to say, “I see myself in the same position doing the same work five years from now.” Remember, nobody will tap you on the shoulder in 5 years and check on you!

If you do want to stay in your next job for five years without trying to get any promotions, that’s your choice.

But saying that won’t help you get hired for most of the high-quality jobs. So, for the interview, you just need to say something that’s a bit challenging but still reasonable.

3. Tailor Your Answer to Fit the Company & Job

Finally, whatever five-year goal you discuss, make sure you can explain how the position you’re interviewing for fits within that plan.

Otherwise, they’ll be wondering if you really want the position and if you’ll stay for the long haul.

If you’re looking for your first Supervisor position and want to be a manager within the next five years, you may say that you enjoy leading people and that your main professional ambition is to break into management.

Then, you may simply describe how this Supervisor position is an excellent first step toward leadership and how you would flourish in this position and appreciate the opportunity.

This is also true when answering, “What’s your dream job?” you don’t need to say this is your exact position, but it should have some similarities to what you want to be doing long-term!

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