How to: Answer the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time”
An old question that appears in every interview
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time” is a question you will find in most interviews. Hiring managers are not expecting you to predict the future when answering this question. We know it can be hard to articulate where you would like to be in your career let alone in 5 years’ time. Hiring managers ask this question to get a sense of your goals and to see if they align with the company’s goals and also to see whether you’re planning on staying with the company long term or short term. We have put together a list of tips to help you prepare and answer the question.
Planning your response
When answering this question it is important to consider what your career goals are, your skills related to the job and how you could help the company reach its objectives.
We would recommend that you start off by writing down your goals, this will help you see your motivation for the job. Think about why you have applied for the role and what you would like to/ would be proud to achieve in this role. If you’re not sure if this is the role for you, you should plan your goals towards the industry you want to work in.
Do your research
You should do some research into the company’s objectives. Look on the company’s website for their ambitions, purpose and values. Your answer should show how you would be an asset to the company and how you would help them reach these objectives. If you show interest in where the company is heading, you will show the hiring manager that you’re motivated to help the company reach their long-term mission.
Developing your answer
Now that you have set out what your career goals are, how you want to achieve them, and you have an understanding of the company’s goals and mission, you’re ready to answer the question.
In your answer you should:
Outline your interest in the job to show the hiring manager that you’re motivated to fulfilling the duties of the role. For example “One of the things that drew me to this role is…” then you could go into how your skills match up with the skills in the job specification.
Within your answer, you should mention that you want to learn and progress at the company. If the job you’re applying for has no stepping stones to a higher position or where there is no clear career path you should mention aspects of the job that you would like to excel in.
For example “Within 5 years I would like to be considered as an expert in project management systems and develop close client relationships and to be working with major national clients” This shows that your desire for career growth doesn’t need to be outside of the job role or the company.
If you are changing career paths you can tie in your skills from your old job. For example “I see myself growing in my understanding of… to the point where I can take on additional responsibilities. Once I have gained the experience I would like to progress to… ”
How not to answer the question
Avoid giving a non-answer
Your answer should be general but not too vague. If you give a non-answer it will come across as if you’re not sure about your career path or you don’t take it seriously.
Some people make the mistake of mentioning a specific position that is not available in the company. For example “In 5 years’ time, I see myself progressing into the senior executive position”. This will make you come across uninformed if this position doesn’t exist at the company.
Do not lie, manipulate or give an off the wall answer because hiring managers will be able to see through it!
Don’t say you have plans outside of the company (e.g. saying things like you want to go back to university or going travelling). This shows you’re not willing to stay with the company long term.
If you're looking for more advice, why don't you check out our career advice here.
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