Preparing for the 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' interview question
Most professionals will get the question 'where do you see yourself in five years?' in an interview at least once during their careers. Employers frequently ask this question as a way to gain a better understanding of your future goals and how those goals align with the position you're applying for. While you may not know exactly where you want to be in the next few years, being prepared to answer this question will set you up for success and help support an overall productive interview.
Here we look at why employers ask 'where do you see yourself in 5 years?', things to keep in mind when answering this question, and several examples you can use as a guide when preparing for your next interview.
Why do employers ask 'where do you see yourself in five years?'
When an interviewer asks you about your professional goals for the next five years, they do so to gain an understanding of a few different things. They often want to learn the following:
If you’ll stick around with the company for at least five years
Depending on the job you’re applying for, the length of time that an employee typically stays in that position will vary. The longer employees stay in a position, the less turnover and turnover-related expenses the company has to worry about. So, if you can’t see yourself in that position or with that company for at least the next few years, this is valuable information an employer would want to know before hiring you.
If your goals match what the employer is able to offer
You’ll likely have a few set goals in mind in terms of how you want to grow within the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for an entry-level position but would like to work your way up to a management position over the next five years, the interviewer can provide information as to if that’s a possibility at that particular company. Additionally, if you start in one position and have the goal of transferring to a completely different position in another department or field, you’ll want to know if that’s an option available with that particular employer.
Both of these factors help employers determine if an employee is a right fit for the company in the long term. The information the employer provides based on these factors will also help you decide if that company is a right for your professional goals.
How to answer 'where do you see yourself in five years?' in an interview
It’s best to prepare for interview questions such as ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ before you get to the actual interview. This ensures you provide well-thought-out answers and successfully convey the message you’re trying to get across to the hiring manager. The following are steps you can take to prepare for and answer this interview question:
- Get clear about your career goals. Take some time to brainstorm what your career goals are for the next five years. Do you want to gain new skills? Are you interested in eventually moving into a managerial position? Do you want to work on particular projects? Are you interested in working in a particular industry? You could also answer this question by thinking about what you’d like to see on your resume in five years. Do you want to obtain particular certificates or hold a certain job title? Make a list of these aspirations.
- Find connections between your goals and the job description. To help tie in your goals with the job you’re applying for, look at the job description and see if you can find any traits and skills you already possess as well as those you want to get more experience in. This will allow you to relate your goals to the position you’re applying for in the interview.
- Ask yourself if the company can prepare you for your career goals. It’s important to be honest about whether the company you’re applying with can prepare you for your career goals over the next five years. If it can’t, you may want to reconsider the position or let the employer know up-front that you may not be with that company for at least five years.
The following are example answers to the interview question ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’:
Example answer 1: ‘In five years, my goal is to successfully obtain two certificates that are related to my position. I took some time to review your website before this interview, and I noticed that you offer your employees education advancement opportunities that include pursuing certifications to further their careers. Using the resources your company provides its employees, I truly believe that I can pursue my career goals and eventually move into a management position within your organization over the next few years.’
Example answer 2: ‘My ultimate goal for the next five years is to master my position and advance into a managerial role within my department. I was drawn to the personalized training approach your company outlines on its website, and I truly believe this approach to training will allow me to learn new skills and grow within this position. Over the next five years, I see myself taking on new and exciting projects within your company that will prepare me for a management role with the organization.’
Example answer 3: ‘A few of the goals I’ve set for myself over the next few years include leading a writing team and gaining new project management skills within my position. I’m excited about the opportunities this job would provide me, as I believe they will support my long-term career goals and allow me to grow within your company and give back by utilizing the skills I’ll gain.’