where do you see yourself in 5 years? You don't have to be a crystal ball fortune teller to find the answer. While this may sound like a trick question, it is not. The only trick to answering it is to try to match your ambitions with this company. Let's say you're interviewing for a job at a start-up. A good goal might include growing as the company grows and gaining knowledge of the space from the most ambitious people in the business. Then, you can answer the question "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" with a solid answer: at the age of five I hope to be a team leader in my company. Your answer should be forward-looking and optimistic. That said, you don't want to come across as so ambitious that you stole the interviewer's job from under her. I think your answer is like a litmus test of how long you will stay with the company. However to answer the question, your interviewer's takeaway should be that you want to stay with the company for many years.
Psychology and subtext of the question and answer
Why do interviewers ask this age-old question? Simple. The company does not want to go to all the effort and cost of teaching you, only you are giving away everything you have learned with you. Attracting new employees is both time-consuming and costly. The subtext of your answer to "where do you see yourself in 5 years" should allay your interviewer's concerns that your only interest is in working as a conduit to a better job elsewhere. ((Journal of Applied Psychology: Case Interview))
How to answer this?
Coming up with a good answer to this question can be tricky, as it forces you to think about a future that is currently a complete mystery. However, there are several ways you can prepare a reliable response that will satisfy any interviewer.
1. Review Your Five Year Plan
To help you navigate the right answer, try writing down a roadmap of where you see yourself in five years before going into any interview. Don't worry about the exact name you'll need (if it helps you plan for your future). Instead, think about the tasks you will be doing each day. Taking this simple step can help you answer with confidence. Plan for answering this question, as this is a perennial favorite of interviewers, and whatever you do, don't show any lack of ambition by answering “I hope to be in the same job”.
2. Beware of being too focused on the future
Think “where do you see yourself in 5 years” is a question like a brilliant subject. The interviewer wants to distract you from the real interview by asking you this question. Why? She asks you about the future to see if you can use it to draw a straight line back to the present. For this reason, a two-part answer often works just fine. “I want this particular job…” can be said as a way to reinforce your desire for this position. Then, in the second part, explain my plans for the future: … “because it will help me build the outreach skills I will need as a foundation for a successful career in marketing. Your company has won numerous marketing awards and I know that I will learn from the best in the business.” Keep it short and sweet, but also include details that show you know the company you want to work for.
3. Go through the same career path offered by the company
When someone asks, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”, should you answer honestly? Yes, of course you should. Your answer should also reflect the detailed research you put into the company. You never wanted to talk about your plans to retire young. It is never assumed that you are independent and rich, and therefore do not need to work in five years. Before you go to a job interview, do as much homework as you can on the likely careers you are about to take. How will this work give you the first step on this path? For example, if you're applying for an administrator position at a dermatologist, don't say that you hope that this position will help you get a job as a nurse in one office. Instead, if you dream of becoming a nurse, learn the degrees and licenses you need to earn to become qualified. If, indeed, becoming a nurse is your dream, it makes more sense for you to apply for a nursing position rather than an administrator, so that your career path is in line with your goals. One way to plan your short-term career ambitions is to look online for the position you want to acquire and carefully check your qualifications. This way you will be about realistic goals to bring when you answer. For example, if you are aspiring to be a financial analyst at an investment firm where you are interviewing, but you are currently applying for an assistant position funding program, make sure you can achieve the required qualifications while working full-time. If you have not yet earned the required degree, your interviewer may conclude that you will be going back to school - and therefore leaving your positions and cutting back on your hours to attend part-time. This answer can backfire. Better yet, find out what training programs are offered through the firm or which can be reimbursed through the firm while holding a full-time job. Link to your desire to hone your skills and learn more and you will impress your interviewer with your future oriented aspirations.
4. Don't resist the question
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years” is a matter of strength for you to see into the future. It can feel scary at times, but fighting won't help protect the job. Forget about the question, not from it. ((Language in society: answers and evasions)) For example, do not say: “I cannot know where I will be in five years. Over the past five years, I have been married, divorced, and remarried. Uff! Life is a whirlwind.” Do your best to answer the question and not be defensive. If you're really just trying to get a job and have no idea what long-term career path to pursue, you may need to respond in a broad, non-specific way while still showing an upbeat attitude. For example, you may have decided that college principals are not your passion and you are interviewing at a company because your roommate works there and gets into your application. Let your interviewer know that you are excited about the opportunity and why, and that you are ready for a long-term role. In this case, you can simply answer: “This is a field I'm excited to explore for its growth opportunities and cutting-edge achievements. I hope that in five years I will have the experience to help the company move forward and keep it competitive.”
5. Be Realistic
You can be especially ambitious, and your plan is to climb as high in the company as high as possible and land as quickly as possible. Still, let's break your resolve to overthrow the CEO in five years (if you are in the top management). If you shoot too high, instead of imposing on your interlocutor, you'll raise your eyebrows and come off as overzealous, callous, or even unrealistic. Root your answer to reality, realizing that advancing one or two positions above the one you want to occupy is the most likely scenario. If you can use recent promotions work experience as an example, you will show that you are progressing-worthy. For example: “My summer job was in college at a vacation resort where I started in a restaurant serving staff, but after one summer, I was promoted to restaurant manager, and the following summer I became assistant general manager. I hope that in five years I will again be able to move up two positions where I will start in your company, showing my ability to learn quickly and win the trust of others.”
6. Prove Your Endurance
As today's job turnover has become as commonplace as updating your iPhone, employers struggle to determine which candidates will stick around and who will quickly become twitchy and want to move on. In fact, applicants with a work history of frequently changing jobs are not interviewed at all, regardless of their qualifications. Try to demonstrate that you see yourself in the company, learning and adding value as you go. If you then stay with the employer for five years or more, there is a chance that it turned out to be a positive situation for both you and the company, and how you answered the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” can actually be realized.
Additional interview tips
- 10 Things Powerful Interview Candidates Make Them Get Hired Every Time
- How to excel at a group interview without breaking a sweat
- Top secret! 20 Unusual Answers To Difficult Interview Questions