Some staple questions are asked during the interview, and one of the commonest ones is, “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?“
Now, this can be a tricky question to answer if you have not given much thought to your future. And yet, this is one of the most pertinent question that employers ask as they try to get the measure of you as a prospective employee and whether your long-term goals align with what they have to offer.
Now, it is given that the professional world is highly dynamic, and you might change your mind after spending a couple of years in the industry. Yet, it would be best if you still had a plan and goal in place while starting.
When asked about your long-term career plans, you cannot offer vague responses because employers want someone they can depend on. Hence, knowing how to answer this question is crucial and requires some preparation.
And for that to happen, you need to have a clear understanding of yourself and what you want to achieve as far as your professional goals are concerned.
Why Do Employers Want to Know Where You See Yourself After Five Years?
When employers ask you this question, they have a few things in mind and want to know you better as a prospective employee. Here are a few things to consider while preparing to answer this question.
1. Whether You will Stay With the Company for Five Years
While it depends significantly on the job you have applied for, your prospective employers would like to know whether you have plans to stay with the company for the next five years. While you work for an organization, they do the same for you- the people teach you skills and invest in your proper training.
Hence, your employers would like to know whether it is worth investing in you and if you will stay with them for the long term. Therefore, you need to consider this aspect carefully before answering.
2. Your Long Term Goals
Every employee has some long-term goals, but how they reach it might differ from what the company offers. You might join in the entry-level position and work towards a managerial position in the next five years. Or, you might want to transfer to another field based on the skills you have acquired in the initial days of your career.
Giving your employer what you have in mind will enable them to offer you a position that works in the interests of the company and also leaves you satisfied as an employee—in several cases, not getting this right has resulted in frustration and disillusionment for both parties.
3. Your Definition of Success
Everyone has a different idea of success, but it can be said that doing well professionally definitely ranks somewhere at the top. When you put in your efforts in the initial days of your career, you start reaping the benefits from the third year onwards. You can reach a very secure and satisfying position by the third year.
Your dedication and hard work will give you the desired results. Your employer would like to know whether you would stay with them at this crucial juncture in your career because a successful and motivated employee could become an asset to the company.
How Do You Answer the Question “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”
It is always a good idea to prepare yourself well in advance to answer this question. You could also be asked variations of this question, like what are your long-term goals. It would be best if you did not sound hesitant or fumble during the interview and must convey your thoughts honestly and confidently. Here is how you can do so:
1. Setting Benchmarks
The first thing to remember here is that you are not the only candidate for the interview. The hiring managers will be asking the same question to all the other applicants. Hence, one of the best ways to ensure that you stand out is to provide benchmarks for your five-year plan.
Responses like you see yourself as a team leader can be politically correct and very generic.
Hence, based on the job you are applying for, talk about concrete facts to engage your recruiters. Are you looking forward to learning a new skill? Are you going to work on improving your communication? Are you interested in working on some particular projects? Is there a particular job title you are working towards? Taking these factors into account will help you develop more quantifiable responses.
2. Relate Your Career Goals With the Job
You might have a lot to offer, but it is not something that your job description requires. In that case, your long-term goals will not align with the company, and you will not be able to use the skills you already possess. Always try to relate your goals with the position you are applying for.
Once you have gained enough experience in that field in the next five years, your skills and experience will be something that the company will be able to make use of.
In addition, you also need to know whether the company will be able to prepare you for the position you want to attain in the next five years and whether it has the resources to give you the opportunity.
You can find out about this from the job description and ask your recruiters pertinent questions when you are asked to clarify your doubts.
3. Be Ambitious
While it is not a good idea to come across as over-confident, you must also show a hint of ambition while answering this question. Employers like employers who are go-getters and are eager to put in the time and effort to achieve what they want.
Showing that you are ambitious will prove that you intend to work towards your goal. The company will be happy to provide you with the resources.
How to Prepare for the Question “Where you See Yourself in 5 Years?”
When faced with where you see yourself in five years, you might have doubts regarding how to answer the question. Since this is a very common question, it would be ideal for preparing the answer in advance. Here are some pointers to help you.
Think About Your USP
Since this is a very common interview question, you can be sure that the other candidates will also speak about their ambitions and long-term goals within the organization.
Hence, apart from mentioning those points, you need to develop something unique about yourself so that your employers see you adding value to the company after five years.
What can you bring to the table after half a decade? How do you plan to evolve?
What additional skills do you plan to pick up? Come up with things that are unique to you and discuss how you will enhance them after working with the company for five years.
Practice Your Body Language
Your employers are seasoned recruiters, and they will know whether you are simply saying the words or do you mean them. It is important to work on your body language and your tone, to convince your employers that you really mean to stay with the company for five years.
Whether you will stay on or not is a question that the future will answer. When answering the question, you must believe and convey that you will stay with the company for five years.
Focus on Tangible Goals
While thinking about where you see yourself after five years, it is important to be realistic and think of tangible goals that you can achieve in five years. There is no harm in dreaming big, but your goals should not sound unrealistic.
It depends on the job you have applied for and the designation it comes with. It would help if you had a good idea about the trajectory your career path will take in the next three to five years. This will also give your employer the impression that you know how the industry works and will be a good fit for the company.
Follow-Up Questions to Ask for “Where you See Yourself in 5 Years?”
After you answer the question of where you see yourself in five years, a great way to make an impact is to ask some follow-up questions to the employer. It is done to consolidate what you just said.
This signifies that you are not just answering a question you had memorized but are serious about working with the company for the next five years. The questions need not be long, and just one or two will suffice. It is more about the impact they create.
Some of these questions can be:
- How does the company plan to grow in the next five years?
- What other opportunities can the company provide me in the next five years?
- What technological advancements is the company looking at in the next five years?
- Will the company expand to other locations in the next five years?
What these questions imply is that you are serious about your future with the company, which is why you are asking these pertinent questions to your employer.
Your employer will understand that your intentions about staying with the company are long enough. This is why you are looking at the company’s future as well because it is inextricably linked with your future.
You will stand out from the other candidates if you ask these questions and improve your chances of landing the job.
Sample Answers For “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”
When asked where you see yourself in the next five years, here are some ways in which you can answer this question. Be sure to customize the answer based on your job description.
Example 1In the next five years, I would like to attain two certifications (name of the certifications) to help you excel in my position. I have already noticed on your company website that you offer opportunities for pursuing certifications and diplomas to your employees for their growth. Hence, I would like to put the resources to good use and move into a managerial position within the next five years, my ultimate goal.
Example 2My ultimate goal is to become a Project Manager, and I hope to do so in five years. I have researched your company, and I learned that you take a personalized training approach. This will help me acquire new skills to fulfill my dreams of moving on to a managerial position. It would be an honor to head new and exciting projects in your company after that.
Example 3In the next five years, I see myself heading a team of writers and starting a new section in the publishing house. I would also like to undergo new creative writing courses to hone my skills further. Your company also regularly works with new writers, and it would be an enriching experience to share ideas with them. It will help me grow and will eventually help me realize my dream of becoming an editor.
Things You Should Avoid Saying While Answering, “Where Do You See Yourself in the Next Five Years?”
While answering this question, here are some things you should avoid saying to your hiring managers.
1. You Are Only Here For a Little While
When asked about your five-year plan, do not say that you only plan to have a short stint at the company. Not only is it undiplomatic, but it is also rude to say that to an employer who is considering hiring you and building your career. So unless you are interviewing for a short-term position, you should refrain from making such a remark.
2. You Have Not Thought About the Future
While it is never possible for someone to have all the answers, and life can be unpredictable, saying that you have not given any thought to your career goals in the future is tactless.
Nor should you answer something vague like you do not know. Take some time and consider where your career might be while answering this question, or you might come across as wholly unambitious. That is not a good thing either.
3. Being Too Eager
While lack of ambition is not a good sign, being too eager isn’t either. It should never seem like the position you are applying for is not your calling, and you are only doing so out of compulsion. While many day jobs are just that, it should not reflect on your response, and you should answer accordingly.
While no one has seen the future, it is good to have a plan, especially concerning your career. With stiff competition, you need to clear a path for yourself. It would be best if you genuinely thought about what you want to do, and once you are honest with yourself, you will be able to answer the question with ease.
Please do not say something you do not mean, for it will not benefit your long-term. Think about your prospects and keep working hard, and you are sure to reach your goals in the next five years.