How to Answer: Where do You See Yourself in Five Years?

When you are in the interview this always seems like such a strange question and can catch you off guard. But ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ or ‘What are your long-term career goals?’ are a staple of many interview rooms. While it can seem tempting to answer the question by saying ‘not here; living on a Caribbean Island as a millionaire’. Sadly, this is not the right way to answer the question. The question is not designed to see whether or not you are a psychic but it does have a point.

Why is this question asked?

The reasoning behind this question is actually quite simple. The interviewer wants to find out about your career goals and whether you will commit to the company. If you are interested and motivated about the role then you are more likely to succeed. The more you are driven to succeed, the more you are likely to stay at the company. A company may have to spend huge amounts of time and money training you so they want their investment to stay.

It is a very competitive job market out there today and it is quite easy to fill a post. So interviewers are usually going to strike you off as soon as they spot anything they don’t like in your interview.

What should you say?

  • Keep your answer quite general

You are not expected to be a psychic so it is best to be as general as possible. Also if you are too general then it can back fire on you. First of all if you aim too high such as ‘I aim to be earning £150,000’ then you run the risk of seeming naïve or arrogant. And if you aim too low then you may seem like you have no ambition which looks just as bad.

  • Show you want a long term career

You need to show the interviewer that you are interested in a long term career at the company. So that your skill set can grow and hopefully you can advance through the ranks.

  • Enthusiasm

You have to make it clear to the interviewer that you are excited about this role. You are motivated to take this role right now.

For Example:

I am really motivated to take on new and exciting opportunities at a company where I can grow. I would like to gradually take on management responsibilities and get involved in more complex projects. The most important thing for me though is to work for a company where I can build a career.

What not to say?

Whatever you do, don’t tell them that you’re not sure what you are going to be doing. It gives them the impression that you are not sure of your career path. Don’t tell them that you are planning on going back to University either. They are looking for someone to have a career; not someone ready to go back to University. It gives the impression that you are not willing to commit to a career at the company.

This can seem like a harmless question but it is quite important so take the time to figure out some of your career goals. If you have an idea of what your career goals are then you will be able to adjust your question to fit any situation.