Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Of all the interview questions employers ask, this one seems to frustrate job seekers the most.
The problem: Who honestly knows where they’ll be in 5 years?
Don’t worry, in this article, you’re going to learn:
When the interviewer asks you this question, they aren’t expecting you to really know where your career or life will be in 5 years.
Nobody’s going to write down your answer and check on you in five years, so it doesn’t matter if your prediction is accurate.
All that matters is you give a good answer that gets you the job offer, right? So keep reading and we’ll discuss how to do that now.
So, since they’re not expecting you to accurately predict the future (it’s not like anyone’s going to follow up and check in 5 years anyway), what do they actually want to hear when they ask where you see yourself in 5 years? Why are they even asking this?
If you don’t seem to have put any thought into what direction your career is going, it’s going to cost you job offers from top employers!
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 their job description, their company’s overall mission, their industry, etc.
If you’re thinking, “How do I know where I see myself in 5 years? This is impossible to answer”, then don’t worry. Help is on the way.
Here’s how to explain where you see yourself in 5 years (or 2 years, 3 years, etc.)
We’ll look at 3 key steps to answering, and also the #1 mistake to avoid when answering.
The worst thing you can do is seem like you haven’t put any thought into it this all. You’ll seem like you’re unmotivated or just don’t care.
You’re already doing this right now by reading this article, so that’s a great first step. Nothing sounds worse than saying, “Wow, I haven’t thought about that. I have no ideal.”
And you also don’t want to draw a blank and answer with “uhh.. umm…”
You don’t want to say, “I see myself in the same position doing the same work 5 years from now.”
Remember – nobody’s going to 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 out there.
So for the interview, you just need to say something that’s a bit challenging but still reasonable.
How? Make sure their job fits your 5-year goal.
If you don’t make it seem like the job you’re interviewing for right now fits into the “big picture” of what you want, they might not hire you because they’ll think you don’t really want to do this work.
It’d be a pretty bad decision for them to hire somebody whose goals aren’t being met in this job. You’d be unhappy, bored, and probably quit pretty soon. No company wants this, because it costs a lot of money/time to hire and train someone new.
So you want to set their mind at ease that this job is truly what you want to be doing! This is also true when answering, “what’s your dream job?” – you don’t need to say this is your exact dream position, but it should have some similarities to what you want to be doing long-term!
Keep this last piece in mind as you prepare for your interviews and think about how you’ll answer this question for each company you talk to.
Always say something that’ll help the company see why you want their job. And don’t ever pick something that’ll make them wonder why you applied.
Now that we’ve looked at why employers ask where you see yourself in 5 years and how to answer, let’s finish with a word-for-word example answer.
“Where do I see myself in 5 years? Well, since becoming a Project Lead in my last job, I’ve found I really like project management. In five years, I hope to be leading larger projects, or maybe managing multiple project teams. I thought your Senior Project Manager position was a great step in that direction and would provide a nice challenge, while also making use of my 2+ years of prior project leadership experience in this same industry.”
So just to recap, in this sample answer for where you see yourself in five years, you’re:
If you do these three things, you’ll put a smile on the interviewer’s face and move one step closer to getting the job offer. And most importantly, you’ll feel confident and relaxed next time they ask where you see yourself in 5 years.
Got a question on any of this? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
And if you want 14 more questions and answers to practice, check out this page.