Tips for Answering: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

27 December 2023
4 min read
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“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is probably today’s most dreaded interview question all over the world. It doesn’t just shake anybody to the bones, it also comes in different shapes and manners like:

  • What’s your definition of success?
  • What are your long-term career objectives?
  • What do you expect from this job?

The questions listed above are just three of the numerous variations of the dreaded “Where do you see yourself in five years”. As an applicant, while attending interviews, it is important to know that it is very normal for you to have to answer this question whether it comes in this form or other forms.

Before we talk extensively on how to answer “the where you see yourself in five years” question, let’s look at why interviewers never fail to ask that particular question albeit in different manners. 

  1. The first thing you need to understand is that interviewers are not asking you this question because they expect you to be able to predict the future. And even if you do possess any sort of psychic powers, do not attempt to predict your own future.
  2. Another thing you should take into cognizance is the fact that this question as vague as it sounds is an attempt to take a road trip into your mind and a perfect way for a recruiter to gauge how you think as a person in relation to your career objectives, so do not be surprised if you’re hit with this same question but with only differing semantics in one or more interviews.
  3. Most companies are always on the lookout for new employees who in one way or the other fit into their long-term plans and not someone who’s not interested in commitments but only looking to fill a space in their life just until they get better offers.

It is a good thing we took the time to look at the “why” as it has given us an insight on how recruiters or hiring managers think when they pose this question and well if you as an applicant already have an idea of what your hiring manager will hit you with, then there’s nothing stopping you from securing that job despite the array of questions that might be posed.

Now, let’s take a serious look at how to answer this question in whatever form it comes at you.

The first thing to do when posed with this question is to realize that it has no definite answer and no one knows where he or she will be in five years, likewise, the interviewer does not expect you to.

Therefore, there is no particular script that should be followed as far as the question is concerned.

Instead, what your interviewer is looking forward to hear is your career hopes and aspirations and how they can fit into the company. Therefore, be simple and be down to earth.

In some cases, honesty is very important but you should also know that if being honest about your career goals might not fit into the company’s then simply tell the interviewer what they want to hear and leave honesty outside the room, unless, of course, you have a better offer somewhere.

You should also be aware that in your attempt to impress the recruiter by telling them what they would rather hear, conduct a proper research before plunging in to tell them how perfect you are for that specific role.

Many applicants out of excitement flunk their interviews because they sound too ambitious and it looks like if employed they will be gunning for their boss’ jobs which you never can tell might even be the one conducting the interview.

One of the best ways to answer this question is to predict where a specific position in the said company can take you realistically and connect it with how you’d like to be perceived in the general professional sense.

This gives your interviewer the sense that you’re not just thinking about growing professionally, but you’re also thinking to grow hand in hand with the company. 

How to Answer Where do You See Yourself in 5 Years Example
  • I’m exceptionally delighted about being a part of Solution Logics Incorporated because in the next five years, I’d love to be perceived as an expert petrochemical engineer and I believe Solution Logics Incorporated as a leader in the petroleum industry is the best training ground for someone like me who’s willing to contribute to the society. I’m equally excited about the prospects of working with some of the most brilliant minds in Europe. 

You should also be aware that revealing to your recruiter the possibility of a dream job which is different from the one you’re currently applying for will ultimately lead to a dent in your employment prospects as companies are usually not very excited by the fact that they might be mere second choices.

Also, the job of a recruiter is generally not a very interesting one as recruiters usually have to interview thousands of young aspirants just like you, therefore, it gets to a point where their job eventually becomes mechanical and boring.

A recruiter in this position as you can probably assume will not be excited to waste their time on applicants whom the first impression they get off them is that they are not generally exceptional and might even just have dreams of making it in another industry or company.

For example, as an applicant, if in five years, you see yourself as a leading Food Technologist; it might be very hard to convince a recruiter that you’d be a good fit for a Customer Service firm.  

While considering how to answer “a where do you see yourself in five years question”, it would be in your own best interests to avoid lying to your recruiter, although you are not required to reveal all your plans especially if they might not be plans that are in concordance with the company goals.

Lying to a recruiter might get you into a job but you’ll only end up shooting yourself in the leg if eventually that lie is discovered.

Finally, while answering this question, let the interviewer realize how interested you are in the opportunity to start work as soon as possible and, of course, how flexible you are at this, therefore, opens you up to prospects of other positions in the same company in case you’re not the best fit for the particular role you have applied for.

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