During the many interviews that you will endure in your job search, there are many questions that you will hear repeatedly. 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' is one. It is a question that needs to be understood from both an employer's perspective and a candidate's perspective.
While you may not be entirely sure where you'll be in five years, an employer will ask this question to understand your career plan. Be prepared to answer this question clearly and positively. If done correctly, your job search may inch ever closer to being over.
Employers will ask this question for three main reasons:
An employer wants to hear that the position will fulfill your needs and that you'll be motivated to work hard during your time at the company. If you want to stick around, this will benefit the company as they will have less staff turnover. Each position will vary, however, as some roles may not have a shelf-life of five years for you.
An employer will also gain insight into your aspirations for the next few years when asking this question. Your career plan is of interest to an employer as they want to make sure that you fit into their company, and that their company fits into your career plan. Answer correctly and the employer will have the impression that you will be a committed team member who will add value to the team.
Here is how you should respond to an employer when asked the question, 'where do you see yourself in five years?'
Write down what your career goals for the next five years are. Be clear, understand why you have these aspirations, and figure out what you want to do with them. You can also describe which skills you want to gain, what industries interest you, or what position you would like to work your way up to.
The job description will include the many responsibilities that you will have in the role if you're hired. Match your goals to these responsibilities and recognize the experience that you will gain from the job. Don't be afraid to let the interviewer know the skills and abilities that you already have when linking your career goals with the job description.
Understand the role that the company will play in your overall career plan. If the company can help develop your skills and abilities, then it will be a good fit for you. If you can't see how the experience will benefit you, then it might be worth reconsidering if the job is worth applying for.
Let's look at what NOT to say when answering this question:
It should be obvious why these answers are poor. You need to be professional in an interview situation to let an interviewer know you are serious about taking the job. If your career plan doesn't align with what an employer wants, then you will have to head back to the job search.
If you are unsure of your career plan or still figuring out what you want from your job search, 'where do you see yourself in five years,' can be a tough question. What many people don't realize is that it's okay for your answer to be vague. As long as your answer is realistic, you are remaining honest to yourself and that's something an interviewer will appreciate.
Although this question will be one of the many asked during your interview, it is a vital one to get right. Prepare properly and spend time building your answer to reflect yourself and your goals positively. After all, where you'll be in five years may hinge on how you answer this question.