Most of us aren’t possessed of powers of premonition and have no idea where we’ll be in half a decade. Fortunately, interviewers don’t expect you to have an exact prediction of your future when they bring out the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question. Instead, they’re looking for your response to contain specific parcels of information.
So, before you begin investing in crystal balls, you might want to have a deeper think about why employers are really asking this particular query.
1. Why Do Employers Ask This Question?
There are three main reasons employers tend to ask applicants, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” First, they want to double check that your overall goals align with the company’s overall goals. Second, they want to ensure any potential candidate is far-sighted and thoughtful enough to have planned their ambitions for the future. Lastly, they hope to receive the impression that your interests will keep you with the business over the longer term. The average US employee, for instance, stays with a company for just over 4 years, and considering the expense and time intensive nature of the hiring process, most interviewers will want to see people stay at least that long.
H2: How to Answer the Question to Show Employers That You’re a Good Match for Their Position?
Having discussed the broad outlines of what employers are looking for from candidate answers to “where do you see yourself in 5 years,” let’s dig a bit further into each point.
1.1 Ensure that your answer aligns with the company’s goals
As part of any interview preparation, you should have done some preliminary research into the company and reviewed the job description again. With these pieces of knowledge, try and consider how what you hope to achieve going forward might align with the role the business is hiring for. For example, if you are a salesperson who wants to grow your own portfolio of clients and the company is looking to attract new revenue, then those two goals naturally mesh. Alternatively, if you are someone who wants to develop a set of qualifications further and your research into a company shows they encourage upskilling, that’s also a neat fit.
1.2 Imagine what kind of career and experiences you hope to have in the future
When formulating your goals, you can use the SMART method to help you clarify your thinking. The acronym encourages individuals to formulate objectives that are Specific (what exactly do you hope to achieve), Measurable (how will you assess yourself), Achievable (something that you can feasibly do), Realistic (given the resources at your disposal) and Timely (give yourself a deadline, rather than leaving it open ended). As well as making them appropriate for the position you are applying for, you should try and show ambition and clear-sightedness, as this is part of convincing a company that you are a top-tier candidate.
1.3 Consider your interests and how they may evolve in the coming years
Showing passion for topics relevant to the organization you’re applying to will obviously have a positive impact on the hiring person, as it helps to reinforce the impression that you will become more ingrained in the company culture, and thus be more likely to stay on for several years. However, while it’s beneficial to consider how personal and company goals align, you don’t necessarily want to use the job description alone as your starting point. Consider your interests as a starting point as well. Don’t just limit your sights to the immediate future and how the job will deliver in the short term, but also take a longer view about how you could continue growing with a business.
2. Important Tips to Remember
How you say something in a job interview is an important corollary to what you say. Once you’ve pondered the points that you might want to cover in your answer to the query, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, take some time to practice your delivery.
2.1 Be concise and eloquent
Keep to the purpose of your answer and don’t waffle, as this will muddle what you’re trying to get across. Practicing your answers will help clarify what you want to say and ensure you tighten up the vocabulary.
2.2 Speak confidently
More generally, just being able to talk intelligently and confidently about where you see yourself in 5 years will impress a hiring person. Organizations are usually looking for people who can work independently and competently – and express that fact in an interview setting with ease.
2.3 Show a sense of commitment towards the company
Use positive language in association with the advertised position and try to demonstrate your seriousness about a role. It can be challenging to do so in a handful of sentences, but it’s worth sparing a few words to show commitment towards a company, thereby inspiring a recruiting manager that you genuinely want to work with an organization.
2.4 Show up your enthusiasm and ambition
Ultimately, most companies want to hire people who seem like goal-oriented self-starters with clear long-term vision. If you are whole-heartedly interested in a position rather than just grasping at any old job opportunity, that needs to come across in an interview through your enthusiasm and ambition.
3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years Answer Example
Having outlined the key considerations when responding to the common query, “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, here are some samples to stimulate your own answers.
3.1 Sample Answer 1: Software Development Engineer
“I’ve spent the last 5 years honing my programming skills in a well-known company, editing and amending code. In the next five years, I’d like to take those software development skills into a more prototype-driven environment. I believe the opportunity with your business will provide me with the chance to demonstrate my ability to deliver time-sensitive projects and, given the growth of the organization, I hope to eventually move into a project management role, overseeing a team of software engineers.”
3.2 Sample Answer 2: Project Manager
“Over the next 5 years, I see myself putting my 10 years of leadership experience towards running a larger team. My past track record is evidence that I’m able to create strong growth with teams of just a handful of people. I’m excited to be able to show that I have the organizational and interpersonal skills to take on bigger projects with bigger teams and still produce the kind of return on investment I’m used to creating.”
3.3 Sample Answer 3: Graphic Designer
“Having previously worked on corporate products to evolve my skills, I see my next 5 years devoted to my true passion: computer games. I would love to be able to take what I’ve learned and what I’ve done thus far, and repackage those experiences to make them relevant for XYZ Games. I know you’ve got an exciting slate of titles lined up for the next 5 years and beyond, and I believe my skills would be an asset both in the immediate and the long-term future.”
3.4 Sample Answer 4: Customer Service
“I am ultimately looking to become the manager of a customer services department. I’ve been with my current company for just under a decade, working my way up from a junior customer services representative to a supervisorial role. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for growth there, and in the next 5 years I certainly see myself taking on a role with greater responsibility.”
3.5 Sample Answer 5: Recent Graduate
“In the next five years, I’m principally looking to get some solid real-world experience. I’ve spent the past 3 years at university studying the latest marketing and communications strategies, including those based around new digital media, and I believe I could use that knowledge to benefit ABC Communications, while at the same time taking advantage of the great training opportunities on offer at the company to develop as an executive.”
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years answer example?
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is a question that you will want to answer as individually as you can. When preparing some examples for yourself, you should feel comfortable taking inspiration from your actual desires – just remember to massage them so that they align neatly with the company goals.
- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years from now?
There are several variations on the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question, including, “what are your career goals?” and “what are your future plans?” The interviewer may vary the number of years, opting to focus on more short-term goals over the next couple years or wanting to know your even longer-term ideas in the next 6 to 8 years. Make sure you practice altering your standard template answer so it can easily accommodate a slightly differently phrased query.