“Umm, 5 years from now? Umm..let me think..well…I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight..”
…is what we think when the interviewer asks “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
This question might come in other versions like “What are your long-term career objectives?” or “What do you expect from this job in the long term?”.
For starters, the interviewers are well-aware that you cannot predict the future. They also know that you probably have a general idea of where you want your career to go.
That should be good enough to prepare your answer.
To be fair, there is no perfect answer that you can give the interviewers and be done with it.
However, there are some best practices you can follow, and we’ll cover them all in this guide, including:
- The Main Reasons Why Interviewers Ask “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
- How to Answer the Dreaded “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
- 5+ Detailed Answer Samples Split by Seniority Level
Why The Interviewer Asks “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
It goes without saying that the interviewers are well-aware that you don’t have supernatural powers and cannot predict the future.
What they actually want to know, is:
- Your career goals and how this job position aligns with them. In other words, they want to make sure that you’re really interested in the industry. They want to know if you see the position as a way to further your career and not just a way to make some extra money for the time being.
- If you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow with the company. Recruiters know that passionate candidates make for better employees that are willing to work hard, and that’s exactly what they are looking to hire.
- If you’re likely to stick around for some time. Companies generally spend a lot of money, time, and effort when hiring new employees. That’s why they often look for individuals that are motivated enough to stay long-term and grow with the company. Otherwise, they’d be losing a lot of money.
How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
To make it perfectly clear from the get-go, there is no specific answer that you can easily memorize and recite in every job interview.
We have compiled 4 tips you need to consider before preparing your own answer:
Tip #1: NO universal answers!
Interviewers can recognize a one-size-fits-all answer from miles away. That makes you sound unprofessional as well as unqualified. Instead, you’ll have to prepare a different answer that you’re going to tailor to every company and position that you apply for.
A good answer should take into consideration the position you’re applying for, the company you want to work for, and most importantly your goals for your future career.
Your answer should show the interviewer that you’re looking to grow professionally with that specific company.
Tip #2: Don’t go in unprepared!
When your career is on the line, you don’t want to leave your answers up to chance. That’s why you’ll need to play your part by doing some research and preparing a well-thought-out answer.
In other words, make sure to check the company’s online presence and what they have to offer in terms of opportunities for growth, like training possibilities and other job positions.
Also, make sure to research the natural career progression for someone with your background and skill set in sites like Glassdoor. That will give a clearer idea of what your career will realistically look like in five years.
Tip #3: Mind the extremes!
Find the middle ground between being overly confident and downplaying your ambitions.
That middle ground is being as realistic and honest as possible.
An answer like “In 5 years I see myself as the CEO of my own company, driving a Porsche and making 6 figures” can potentially be too unrealistic and off-putting if you’re applying as an intern.
Tip #4: Don’t joke around!
It’s way too easy to mess up when answering this question. Quite often, going the funny route won’t cut it.
Anything like “I’m hoping to sit on the other side of this table, hahaha!” will sound disrespectful, so try to stir away from distasteful comments.
5+ Answer Examples For “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years”
Still having trouble preparing your own straight-to-the-point answer to ”Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”?
Check out these 5+ potential sample answers for different seniority levels:
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Student or Internship Answer
“As a recent marketing graduate, my main goal for the next 5 years is to find a position where I can grow my skill set and get as much knowledge and experience as I can. I want to gain a better understanding of video-making and content marketing as well as social media marketing, which I hope to learn through some online courses as well as through the first-hand experience on the job. This is the knowledge that would definitely help me become more well-rounded, and I want to learn from the most experienced in the field.”
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Entry Level Position Answer
“I am always trying to improve myself, and now I am looking for a position where I can further develop my skills and work on projects that really interest me, which will help me move forward in my career. As a Public Relations Assistant, I want to be able to learn from the best. That is why I wanted to join your team as soon as I heard about the available job position. I hope to see myself as a Public Relations Specialist in 5 years if I prove that I have the skills and knowledge for it, and I am definitely willing to work hard to get there.”
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Mid Level Professional Answer
“I’d love to see myself as a Senior Software Developer in the future, managing my own team of qualified developers and taking on more projects. I believe that I am a qualified Software Developer and that I‘ve had my fair share of experience writing code and contributing to the implementation of different software. However, I’d love to work with a company that will give me the extensive experience I need to become an industry expert that can be trusted with the responsibility of managing a team.”
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Senior Professional Answer
“Being offered this position as the head of the Planning and Logistics department in such a well-known construction company is an achievement in itself. For now, I am only looking to deepen my expertise by doing my best to coordinate all efforts to maintain a cost-effective working process for the company as a whole. In 5 years, I want to be considered a top performer with a great reputation and great achievements to show for it. .”
“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Career Change Answer
“The business world has always been something that I wanted to get into because of its many opportunities for growth, even though I initially settled for another career. That’s why I eventually decided to switch paths and leave Law for Management Consulting. The two are similar in a sense, especially because providing expert advice is the gist of both professions. I believe the position you’re offering would provide me with the best opportunity to make the switch. I’m looking forward to broadening my skill set and exploring this option while learning from the best. I’d be happy to bring in a diverse skill set and I think that my high-level analytical skills and creativity would help me succeed in the future. I hope that in the next 5 years, I get enough knowledge and experience to work with big clients. That would be the opportunity of a lifetime.”
We know your struggle with answering “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. It definitely seems like the question is meant to throw you off and can be impossible to answer.
Hopefully, you have learned how to prepare the perfect answer to the question with our detailed guide.
Some last tips to keep in mind before you go off to structure your own answer:
- Know what to expect! Make sure to do some research on the company and the job position before going in for the interview. Also, don’t forget to research the career progression for the position you’re applying for, so you know what career choices you have for the future. It will definitely make a difference and the interviewer will notice that you’ve done your research.
- Focus on what they want to hear! If you want to leave a good impression on the interviewer, focus on showing them how this position will fit in your bigger career plan. Anything else that doesn’t include the company is useless and will tell them that you’re more likely to move on sooner or later.
- Keep it to the point! This is definitely not the best time to go into details about what you have in mind when your future is concerned. They don’t want to hear about your future housing situation or about the Chevy you’ll be driving around. Just give them a straight-to-the-point overlook of your goals and future aspirations, and that should be enough for them to decide if you’re a good fit or not.
With all these tips, best practices, and detailed examples, you have an ace up your sleeve.