Answer This: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Does this question fill you with anxiety? It’s actually pretty easy to answer once you know what the hiring manager is looking for.

What do hiring managers want to hear?

Let’s cut to the chase. Hiring managers ask this question to determine a few key things about a candidate: Are they ambitious? Have they thought about their career in the long-term? Have they set-up professional goals? Does the open position align with their overall goals?

Things to Avoid When Answering ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Avoid appearing as though you have unrealistic, or worse yet, absolutely no goals. You’ll also want to keep your answer in line with the current job opening and avoid giving the appearance of someone with no intention of sticking around once hired.

Stay away from saying things like:

  • “I have no idea”
  • “I want your job”
  • “I want to be a [job role that has nothing to do with the current job opening]”
  • “On a beach, somewhere”

How You Should Answer ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Five years is a normal amount of time for the average worker to learn the ins-and-outs of a role, then move on to the next step in their career. So by simply doing the math, the best answer to this interview question would factor in the role you’re currently interviewing for, and how it would prepare you for the next step – which may simply be more responsibility or management in the same position. Keep in mind, interviewers are not looking to lose future employees so emphasizing your desire to work for the company long-term is always a good strategy.

Example: “Well, I was really drawn to this position because of [insert key function of the role] and the company’s reputation for providing growth opportunities. In five years, I see myself growing into a supervisor or manager position, where I can support a team in this area.”

What You Should Say If Your Goals Don’t Align With the Role

In this case, it’s best to keep your answer more general. Consider the potential role: what attracts to this position?

Example: “I haven’t yet determined how I’d like my career to proceed, but I do really enjoy [insert key function of job role]. I’d like to explore that area more and this role looks like the perfect opportunity to do that.”

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