In this post, I’m going to break down 2 different ways that you can answer that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question.
I’m Natalie Fisher – Speaker and Coach to new graduates.
I help recent grads feel confidently in charge of their careers and get the jobs they want (even if they have limited experience) by helping them master their interviewing skills.
Let’s get started!
Let’s be real: The job interview question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is kind of a silly one. You can’t possibly know where you’re going to be in the future or what your career will look like in 5 years. Within that time frame, jobs will exist that you don’t even know about yet, and your long-term career plan could completely shift.
You’ll of course want to answer in a way that doesn’t risk threatening your interviewer or the prospective company (for instance, by implying that you might want their job or position — even if that is your true ambition).
I’m going to show you two answers to this question. Remember that your situation and personality type are unique, so what you feel comfortable saying is up to you.
The 2-part safe answer that will likely satisfy 99% of employers:
Employers and interviewers want to hear certain things from candidates when they ask about your five-year plan:
- You plan to be at the company long term.
- You’re on board with the company goal and you’re not already thinking about this job as a stepping stone to move on in your career path, and
- You’ll be happily working hard for them for as long as they need you in that role.
Here’s a sample answer (the first way) that works well in most cases:
“In the first 2 – 3 years, I see myself really sinking into this role. I plan to master the position and all of its ins and outs. My goal would be to fully understand the areas where I can improve and continue to learn and improve. I’d like to really be able to focus on the big wins that would make the department perform at its absolute best.”
“For the next 2 or 3 years after that, I see myself as being a key contributor in the department and a key source of knowledge and expertise to all the other teams in the organization. I want to be able to extend my strengths and offer to help as well as mentor other staff members when necessary, using the skills and knowledge that I continue to gain in my role.”
The second way to approach this question is this:
➢ The bold (yet completely reasonable) way to look at this question which I learned from one of my heroes (Liz Ryan) is to consider this:
It takes guts to ask “Where do you see yourself in five years?” when a hiring manager isn’t committing to keeping you employed five months or even five weeks from now.
If you agree with that, you might give an answer like this (and this is an example that pertains to an analytical email marketing role):
For example, you might say: “I want to learn more about analytics, specific software programs, and methodologies that are used to improve email open rates, etc. I would love to take some additional training on x, y, and z to improve my skills within the marketing department.”
➢ Then after that, you want to ask a question back.
A good example of a question to ask would sound like this:
“Where would you see a person with these goals going in your organization in the future?”
You can ask them what their plans are in a tactful, subtle way, and if they are open with you and give you an answer that feels honest, that’s a clear sign that you’re interviewing with a good organization.
You need to actively decide for yourself how you answer this question. Once you do, you’ll feel more empowered than ever, and your confidence will come through in your interview.
So there you have it: 2 options for how to answer the “5 years” question.
Thank you for reading! And remember that answering questions is one thing, but there is a lot more to interviewing than just answering the questions.
In fact, if all you do is answer the questions alone, you’ve already lost at the interview.
There is a whole interview strategy at play, and if you’d like to learn more, you can get started with me by clicking the link below to grab my free guide: