Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s a question many people face in interviews, yet don’t take the time to prepare for it. You may be tempted to envision where you’ll be in five years on a personal level, but that’s not an appropriate way to answer the question.
Employers are looking for a few specific qualities when asking this question.
- You are committed to the company
- The current position is a natural step toward your long term goals
- You are self-motivated and have aspirations beyond the current position
- Your aspirations match the company’s
- You intend to stay with the company long term. Even if you don’t intend to, this is not the time to indicate that
- You are focused on your job target and career objectives and not simply taking the first job that is offered
- You will bring increasing value to the position as you grow and meet your long term goals
One of the most important things you can do is to listen to the problems that need to be solved while you are interviewing. Address these while answering the five-year question; positioning yourself as a long-term solution provider for the company.
A common concern is sounding too ambitious, which could make the hiring manager feel threatened. Avoiding this is wise, but it’s good to show a healthy level of realistic ambition.
- If you are a manager or wish to become one, emphasize your interest in having more responsibilities as well as mentoring others to benefit the company.
- If you wish to gain expertise in a field, emphasize this while finding a way to show that your goals tie into the company’s objectives as well.
Paint a clear picture for the hiring manager, but don’t go into too much detail. Stay away from specific positions.
For example, a current sales manager could have a 5-year goal of
- helping my employer with developing sales and business development strategies
- working closely with marketing and product development to clearly communicate customers’ needs and market place trends
- building and leading high performance sales teams to maximize company’s top line
Weave your future goals with the position you are applying for and the company’s vision. This will greatly enhance your chances of getting the job.