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

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Stay ahead of the hiring manager and amaze them by how well thought out your answer is to the question of where you see yourself in 5 years.
Sep 8, 2022 8 min read

One question you will most definitely be asked at least once throughout your career is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

It is one of the most frustrating questions out there.

How could you really know where you will be in 5 years?

But hiring managers are not actually interested in that.

They are interested in something else that they can learn from your answer.

And that is – how your career goals match the job position you are applying for, and the company vision.

No matter if you have a plan for 5 years from now, or not, there are a few easy steps you can take to perfect your answer.

In this article, we are going to explore the following questions:

  • Why employers ask “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • How to answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • How not to answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • What about follow-up questions?

And once we are done, you will be able to nail the answer in your next job interview.

If you still haven’t received a callback for an interview, maybe you need to make a resume that stands out a bit more.

So let’s dive in.

Why employers ask “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Before we get to formulating your answer, we need to understand why interviewers ask this question.

With your answer, you can give them a little more insight whether you are the right person for the job.

That is because with this question, they gather information about a few sub-questions that you might not even know about.

Don’t worry, we are here to get you ready.

We are going to go through all sub-questions the interviewer would be looking an answer for through the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question.

Are you sincerely interested in the job?

The first thing your potential employer would be interested in is whether you are really interested in the position, or you are just seeing this as a brief opportunity to advance your career and increase your salary through job-hopping.

You need to highlight your interest in the field, and your intention to become an expert in it.

You can always show off all the extra work you have put in your development via any extra courses and certifications.

Whether you would be there for a long time, or not, your employer would want you to have a fulfilling experience with the company.

But the company should also benefit from having you with it.

Can the employer match your career goals?

Furthermore, your answer can provide them some essential information about your career goals.

Once again, your potential employer wouldn’t want to hire you if you just want the job to advance your career and increase your salary.

If you are oriented toward a field that is relevant to the job position, your employer can be of critical help for your development.

But if you see yourself in a different direction in the future, the potential employer can also help you achieve your goals within the company.

Would you stick with the company for 5 years?

Even if you are interested in the position, and it matches your career goals, you might still answer this question wrong.

You will most probably eliminate your chances if you share that you intend to progress your career somewhere else.

The potential employer would not want to invest in your training and onboarding, if you are just going to leave them in a year.

It is essential in answering this question to assure your potential employer that you see yourself growing in the company.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you see yourself in the same position all that time.

You can always mention how you expect to grow within the company.

How to answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Okay, now you understand why your potential employer is interested in where you see yourself in 5 years.

It is time to get working on your answer, so that you would nail it.

There are a few essential steps you need to cover when preparing yourself.

We are going to go through them one by one.

Think about your career goals.

Before you start thinking about your answer, you need to ask yourself the very same question.

You can’t possibly deliver a good, honest answer without having a basic idea of where do you want to be in 5 years.

A good way to get started is to create a list, where you ask yourself some important questions.

We have some questions here to get you started, but don’t limit yourself:

  • Are you looking to gain some new skills?
  • Would you like to move up to a higher position in the next 5 years?
  • Are you particularly interested in a specific project?
  • What would you like your resume to look like in 5 years?

Once you are done with your answers, you have taken the first and hardest step to your answer.

Make a connection between your career goals and the job description.".

It is essential to tie the job description to your career goals.

You have probably checked the job description multiple times while creating your application documents.

But now it’s time to do that one last time.

Scan for any skills that you already possess throughout the job requirements, and think about which ones you would like to strengthen over the next 5 years.

Furthermore, you can also check what the job would offer you.

You can typically find some signs of potential skill improvement there.

Think about all job-related skills you would like to master in the future, and include that in your answer.

Be truthful

Last, but not least, make sure you use only truthful information in your answer.

If you use anything less, the interviewer would find out.

And usually, it would happen right there on the spot.

To verify your words, you will often be asked follow-up questions that are meant to discover if you are being truthful.

So make sure you are.

Otherwise, you may lose any chances of the job you had.

How NOT to answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Okay, now you know how to answer “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”.

But what should you stay away from in your answer?

We’ve got you covered.

Don’t imply that you have not thought about it

The worst thing you can do when answering this question is imply that you have not thought about it.

If you don’t have an answer prepared, take a few seconds and think of an appropriate answer you can give.

After all, the interviewer is not really interested in where exactly where you will be in 5 years.

It is much more important for them to determine whether you are a good fit to the company, and you are really interested in the job.

Furthermore, they will get a better view of your ambition and good work ethics.

Don't imply you don't intend to stay too long

Most employers would not expect you to stay with them for 5 years, especially if you are not that experienced.

But unless it is explicitly said, you don’t want to say that you have an intention to move to another company in a while.

The company invests time and resources for your training, and they wouldn’t like it if you leave them in a year.

So when you are on an interview, you would like to assure them that you are there to help and move the company forward.

Don't say you want the interviewer's position.

Another thing you need to stay away from your answer is saying you want the interviewer’s job.

They are still employees for the company, and by sharing that you would want to get their position, they may feel threatened by hiring you.

And you would not want that, as it may eliminate your chances of getting the job

What about follow-up questions?

The last thing you need to think about are any follow-up questions which may occur.

Depending on how you form your answer, there are a few that can occur.

Make sure you think about any follow-up questions that may be asked during your interview.

You may also ask friends, or a family member, to think of any questions that would come up into their heads when you answer where do you see yourself in 5 years.

Takeaways: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

We are all done.

Now you know how to answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?” in the best possible way.

Once again, what you need to do is:

  • Determine what are your career goals
  • Find a connection between your career goals and the job description
  • Be truthful, and steer away from any false information

If you have done all that the right way, you should be ready to nail your answer.

Make sure you also remember how NOT to answer this question:

  • Implying that you have not thought about it can hurt your chances more than you think
  • Implying that you don’t intend to stay long in the company can put you behind lots of candidates that have different plans than yours
  • Implying that you want the interviewer’s position may threaten them and you might never get the job, no matter how qualified you are

And last, but not least, prepare for any follow-up questions that may occur.

Keep our advises in mind, and get your dream job in no time.

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