Where Do You See Yourself in the Next 5 Years?
Five years is a long time. Many things can change in that period and it is difficult to see where you will be, or even where you would like to be. So how do you provide a persuasive yet truthful answer? As always, good preparation with pre-scripted answers is the key to overcoming difficult questions in a job interview. This article will help you craft your own response to this question, while remaining true to yourself and the interviewer.
Understand Why They’re Asking
There are a number of reasons Interviewers ask this question. Not only are they interested in your career plans, but also these underlying questions about you:
- Can this job position fulfill your career aspirations?
- Are you self-driven and focused?
- Are you a goal-setter?
- Are you serious enough to commit to the company long term?
- Do you care about your career?
- Are you passionate about your industry?
- Do you have potential for growth and promotion?
Fortunately, you don’t need to explain your career strategy in minute detail. Instead, we suggest tackling this question with the following three-pronged approach.
1. Confirm Your Long Term Interest in the Position
Your interviewer will be observing whether you are motivated toward the position. Tell them about your interest in the position, the company and the industry. All of the following demonstrate long-term ambition, so be sure to mention them in your answer:
- Self study. “I have recently completed/started tertiary studies in “XYZ” in order to advance my career. I’m committed to applying my knowledge in the field over the next five years.”
- New challenge, new opportunity. “I’m excited by the challenge of this new role; it’s a great opportunity to develop my skills and to make a positive contribution to XYZ Company over the next five years.”
- Overall goal. “Over the next five years I’d like to develop my leadership skills and move into my first management role. I see this position will expand my responsibilities, so it’s the perfect role for helping me accomplish my goal."
- Desire to learn. “In the next five years I’d like to learn new skills, take on extra responsibility and hopefully see myself advancing to the next level.”
Loyalty and commitment is perhaps the most important concept to articulate when giving your five year forecast. Give your employer reassurance you will comfortable to remain with their company long term.
2. Sell Yourself
As well as saying what you hope to get out of the position, you should also say what you bring to the position and to the company. It’s the perfect opportunity to highlight your core strengths, skills and experience. Start by reflecting over your recent work history, then project forward into the next five years. This also demonstrates how far you’ve come.
Here are some examples:
- “Considering I’ve spent the last 5 years developing my skills in biological research and biochemical analysis, I want to spend the next 5 years fully utilizing these skills with XYZ. Bringing my skills to this role, I see great potential for XYZ Company to develop a full range of medicines over the next three to five years."
- “In my previous position, I grew sales from $200,000 to $900,000 in just twelve months. By bringing the same sales-focus to XYZ Company, I believe I can increase this department’s sales five-fold over the next five years.”
Design your answers to show you are perfectly suited for the role. Give the impression you are dedicated to the company and moving forward. Often people arrive at a job interview completely focused on what the company can do for them. Show what you can do for the company and improve your chances of being hired.
3. Return the Question
Once you’ve given your answer, take the opportunity to return the question. Ask the interviewer:
- “Do you mind if I ask where you see this position leading in the next three to five years?”
This is an excellent strategy for you as the applicant. It tells the interviewer you are interested in learning more about the long term opportunity. You’ll also gain insight about what the employer expects from the successful applicant.
As an added bonus, getting the Interviewer to talk about the position helps them envision you in their role. This makes you a more memorable interview candidate, improving your chances of winning the job.
What NOT To Say
Now that you know what you should say, there are also some “don’ts” when answering this question:
- Don’t say you want to be in the Interviewer’s role.
- Don’t indicate this position is a stepping stone to the position you really want.
- Don’t say you don’t know, or you don’t care.
- Don’t focus on your personal life. There is no need to mention travel or family plans.
In truth, no job candidate knows exactly where they will be in five years. And yet, it’s not appropriate to answer this long-term question without thinking it through beforehand. It’s easy to ensure you give a great answer. Just follow this guide, be honest and plan your response in advance.
Visit The Job interview section for more articles related to your job preparation.