How to Answer the “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years” Question

a businessman with a crystal ball

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is one of the toughest job interview questions. It is hard to say what you are up to this weekend, let alone long-term career plans.

Well, nobody is a fortune teller, but it doesn’t give you an excuse when it comes to predicting your future at a job interview. You need to provide a proper answer to a potential employer if you want to secure your spot in the top list of candidates.

Why do hiring managers ask this question at all? Basically, they want to know if your career goals align with the job they’re offering to make sure you will work hard and stay with the company long term.

Remember, any organization aims to hire skilled people and keep them in the position as long as possible, since turnover comes at a price. In fact, it costs organizations 33% of an employee’s annual salary to recruit and train a new hire if that employee leaves.

So, by asking you “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, interviewers want to get a proof that you will stay in the job and won’t quit in a couple of months.

As such, you need to be careful when responding to this question. See below the answers you definitely want to avoid, otherwise hiring managers will cross you out from the list of candidates:

where do you see yourself in five years - answers to avoid

How to answer the “Where do you see yourself in five years” question properly?

We strongly recommend that you do some prep-work before answering this question in an interview.

First of all, review the job posting again, consider how your personal goals fit with the job description, which skills and knowledge you already have and what you want to get more experience in. Then, give some thought to where you really see yourself in five years and develop a winning response.

Make sure you structure your perfect answer in the following way:

  • Explain how the job fits into the “big picture” of what you want – tie your personal career plans with your perspective position in the company;
  • Add the right amount of ambition – hiring managers want to know that you have passion to grow within the company. Include your desire to work your way into specific position in the organization;
  • Show your interest in learning – mention some skills and knowledge that you want to improve or get better understanding of.

An example response to “Where do you see yourself in five years”:

“I’m eager to continue developing my analytical skills as a member of your Business Analysis department. In five years, I hope to grow as a leader with in your company. To achieve this goal, I plan to take leadership classes and obtain a data analytics certificate, so I can lead a team and still help your company solve challenging problems using data.”

Bottom Line

Remember, taking time to think of where you want to be in five years based on the job description, your interests and your goals. This will help you develop an answer that conveys your value to hiring managers and demonstrates why you’re the best candidate for the position. You should also make sure that your answer connects to your cover letter and overall resume and career progression.

So, take your time, think ahead, craft a winning answer and nail this interview question!

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