Where do you see yourself in five years?

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2019 by Maire GerrardNo comments


If you are in the process of looking for a new role, it is likely that you are more focused on your immediate future than what the next several years hold. Despite this, it is very common for hiring managers to ask about your long-term goals in interviews, so this is something that you should prepare for.

The purpose of asking this question is not to test your psychic prowess, but rather it allows the interviewer to get a feel for your ambitions and how the role might fit with these. They will also want reassurance of your commitment to the job, so it is important to answer honestly but without causing undue apprehension.

No contradictions

Any response you give should be well-matched with the company and role you are interviewing for; anything else could raise a red flag in the mind of the interviewer. For instance, if you are applying for a role in the technology sector, you can comprehend why an employer may doubt your interest if you say you want to pursue a career in teaching long-term.

Similarly, but not quite as obvious, you should make sure you understand the scope of the organisation you are interviewing for, and what they can reasonably offer. As another example, it would be conflicting to say that you plan to work abroad in the next five years if the business only operates nationally. You should also be realistic in your answer, especially if this regards career progression or salary expectations. While it is good to be aspirational, a grossly inflated idea of what is possible in this instance could give cause for wider concern to the interviewer about your ability to execute tasks pragmatically, as well as indicating a lack of understanding about the role and market.

Broad is better

You will have researched the company thoroughly and from this should have an idea of how your career could take shape. However, it is impossible to predict the future with pinpoint accuracy, so it is safer to keep your answer overarching rather than offering a very specific objective.

This will emphasise that you are open minded and a happy to grow with the business. An example response might be that you see yourself taking the lead on major projects, as this shows drive but an openness as to what those projects might be.

Personal focus

While an interviewer will appreciate that it is difficult to predict exactly where you will be in your career in five years, they need to be assured that you have a long-term outlook in other areas of your life. This can be demonstrated by telling them about personal goals you have and are currently working towards. Whether this is to buy a house, improve your golf handicap or learn another language, it will show you have aspirations and a drive to achieve them.

Keep it positive

Finally, this question is not just about showing you are willing to have a future with the company; you should demonstrate your excitement at the prospect of it. Not only will this reassure the hiring manager of your commitment, but will further convince them that you bode to be a positive and enthusiastic addition to the team.

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