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How to Answer: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

How to Answer: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
Rachelle Ennson December 24th, 2021

In this guide, MockQuestions walks you through answering one of the most common interview questions, Where do you see yourself in five years? We break down a simple method to frame your answer, discuss what to avoid, give you tips for responding, and provide a few answer examples, too!

The Purpose Behind the Question

Your interviewer has a couple of reasons for asking this question:

Knowing this, you can see that the primary goal of your response is to show the interviewer that you are clear about your career goals and that you believe their company can provide you with the challenges and growth needed to remain happy with them for a few years from now.

The interview question, Where do you see yourself in five years? can be asked in a variety of ways. Be prepared to answer versions such as:

Essentially, the interviewer wants to know"¦are you going to stay with the company?

4 Steps to Forming a Thoughtful Response

When an interviewer asks, Where do you see yourself in five years? you might be thinking"¦ I have no idea!

That's completely okay.

We all want to see career progression, and it's human nature to get bored when staying in one place for too long. Sometimes thinking about being in the same job (or even the same company) for five years can feel underwhelming or stale.

Most importantly, your response shows you have clarity surrounding your career goals. Then, you can connect your exciting career goals to what the company can provide you with now and into the future.

Here are a few steps to help you form a thoughtful response:

1

CLARIFY YOUR CAREER GOALS

Start by understanding your career goals in the present and five years into the future.

The interviewer wants to know more about your career goals and how they match this position/what the company can offer you in the future.

Will this position keep you motivated and feeling satisfied in your career today and five years from now?

2

UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS

Take a look at the career growth options with the company. If any of these stand out to you, it's a great idea to mention them to the interviewer and clearly outline why these growth options are a match for the career trajectory you envision for yourself.

Your expressed interest in specific internal growth opportunities will solidify that you are, indeed, seeking a long-term fit with the hiring company. Just ensure that your goals are realistic and reasonable.

3

SHOW YOUR SATISFACTION

It's vital that the interviewer feels confident that the job you are interviewing for is the job you want. A desire for growth is important, but you first want to show your satisfaction with the role in question and how it will help you to expand your career.

Put a spotlight on the aspects of this job that are most exciting to you to show that you are content with the role you're applying for.

4

OUTLINE THE ALIGNMENT

Your career goals should align with what the company is offering in this specific role at this particular time.

For instance, if the company is looking for someone who values continued learning opportunities, you can mention that you're excited to attend future workshops and networking events on behalf of the company.

5

DESCRIBE YOUR ACTIONS

At the end of your response, outline the action steps you plan to take to reach your long-term career goals with the company.

This approach can sound like:

"Five years from now, I would like to (insert your goal). So far, I have (describe the action steps you've taken so far). To meet this goal, I plan to (discuss the action steps you plan to take)."

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1

AVOID GIVING AN ANSWER THAT'S MASKED BY A JOKE

"In five years, I plan to work here, maybe even in your job!"

Showing your lighthearted nature in a job interview can be a nice touch; however, jokes about being on the other side of the interview table rarely come across how an interviewee intends. The interviewer might think you're making light of their question or avoiding the question entirely.

Instead, be prepared to outline a few reasons why you are enthusiastic about this job and what you look forward to learning, gaining, and contributing over the next few years. The interviewer will quickly see that you have not done your research on the opportunity, and you're trying to mask that fact by telling a joke.

2

AVOID GIVING AN ANSWER THAT'S UNREALISTIC

"In five years, I plan to work my way up the ladder and become the next CEO."

Having lofty career goals can be fun, and it's a great sign of ambition. However, if you are in the early stages of your career, it isn't realistic to set your sights on the company's CEO position.

Rather than giving an overly ambitious response regarding your desired career progression, discuss growth and opportunities that are realistic and achievable. Consider sharing your desire to learn about executive leadership and business strategies so that you can achieve your career goals in a realistic timeframe.

3

AVOID GIVING AN ANSWER THAT'S UNRELATED TO THE JOB

"In five years, I plan to live overseas teaching English."

Whether you're planning to relocate, go back to school, or even join the circus, this isn't the time to discuss career dreams that are unavailable with the hiring company.

If you plan to return to school, that's great! If this is the case, express your desire for continued learning opportunities. Then, make a connection between your goals and the company's tuition reimbursement, continuing education program, or other on-the-job training opportunities. This approach shows that your desire to expand your education aligns with what the company offers.

4

AVOID GIVING AN ANSWER THAT SHOWS A LACK OF PREPAREDNESS

"I'm not sure where I'd like to be in five years. I mean, does anyone really know?"

This question isn't the time to deliver a lesson in philosophy. Sure, nobody knows what tomorrow brings, but the interviewer isn't asking a literal crystal ball question.

Example Answers

Admin Example

"Five years from now, I would like to be an Executive Assistant supporting one of your corporate executives. I have built a great deal of experience as an Administrator and feel that the next step to EA is reasonable in that time frame. To meet this goal, I plan to learn more about employee recognition software and begin to build more tech prowess with systems such as Hootsuite and Salesforce."

Sales Example

"In five years, I would like to be a sales leader in the SaaS industry. I plan to be well-connected and trusted regarding the work and results that I bring to your organization. To achieve this goal, I will take on every continued education opportunity presented to me with full enthusiasm. I plan to learn everything that I can from my leaders and have already begun to seek a mentor."

Teacher Example

"I value stability and longevity. In five years, I plan to be at your school, perhaps as the learning leader of the math or science department. To reach this goal, I will seek out opportunities to mentor others. I will volunteer to be a coach of a sports team within your school to make stronger connections with the student body. Also, I will continue to grow professionally through ongoing education opportunities. Down the road, I plan to get my master's degree in leadership, another valuable asset to the school that I will call home."

View more answer examples.

In Conclusion

Common interview questions such as Where do you see yourself in five years? are challenging to answer. You want to be as honest as possible, but in reality, you don't have a crystal ball to tell you the future.

Tricky open-ended questions can feel overwhelming, but with dedicated thought and practice, you'll become more comfortable and confident delivering an answer with confidence.

If you want more assistance with this question and other common interview questions, check out MockQuestions' Q&A set with 30 common questions, answer advice, and 200+ answer examples.

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