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Interview hacks: The answer to “where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Published: Monday 14th September 2020

Oftentimes there are questions asked during an interview, which are familiar, yet have the ability to throw a candidate off balance. When an interviewer asks you where you see yourself in a given number of time, say 5 years, it may quickly turn into an existential crisis in public, or extract an inadequate answer. Does “being my own boss”, “climbing up the corporate ladder”, “ working for your organization” make an answer impressive enough or is there something better?

A young business woman sitting on her desk

Our blog is curated to help you understand what the question entails and how to answer, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

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

When hirers ask you this question, they don’t expect to hear you describe your definite future, but to get an idea about your priorities, vision, career plan and ambition. They are also trying to understand how this job position would fit into your life 5 years from now. Since most organizations spend a lot of money on training and onboarding for their employees, it would be a waste of a potential as well as money for them if you thought of the job in question as a temporary step in your career ladder.

If you display the drive and willingness to succeed while learning from your experiences, you are more likely to perform well in their organization.

Sometimes, this question can take different forms, such as:

  • What are you looking for in an ideal job?
  • What is the most important aspect to you in your career?
  • What are your long-term professional goals?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What does your dream job entail in the current stage of your career?

Such questions all sound different and have varying nuances, but the meaning beyond them all is to find whether the job you are being offered is one that you truly see yourself working and succeeding in.

How to answer the question

Since interviewing for corporate jobs are getting more and more competitive with passing time, hirers have their eyes out to spot just one red-flag as a sign to not work with you. If your answer comes across casual even in the slightest bit, they might use it as an unfair reason or excuse to eliminate you from further rounds. 

It is natural for hirers to look for someone who will consider this job opportunity as a great privilege and an excellent career boost, so they work hard to provide results. Also, they want someone who sees themself in the same role and organization in the next 5 years because it takes at least 3-5 years to promote the staff. 

If you’re taking up a job in digital marketing to cover your gap but want to be a finance manager in the future, the organization and your vision are not aligned. If you left them at the first chance you got because of a job in the finance sector, they will have to recruit, hire and train another person again. Recruiting and hiring is a tedious and painstaking process that hirers don’t prefer doing regularly. To prove to them that this job being offered is important for your long-term professional goals is the key to answering the question correctly.

What to say?

  • Keep the answer general: We’d usually recommend being specific to interview questions but this is an exception. Keep your answer general but truthful, especially if you don’t know the career ladder of the job in hand. Mention about learning from your role and growing within the organization, for starters.
  • Emphasize on your long-term interest in this job: This is important especially if you have a lot of job changes within short spans of time. By reassuring hirers that you plan to stay for the long haul and contribute to mutual growth, you will display that you’re ready to commit to a future with the organization even though nothing is set in stone yet.
  • Show them enthusiasm to be onboard: Express enthusiasm to join the organization and how optimistic you are about this role.

The mark of a great interview is understanding what is asked and answering the questions with careful deliberation. That being said, it always helps to prepare yourself beforehand to answer such questions aptly without missing a beat. Our jobseekers blogs will help you prepare better with lots of interviewing tips and hacks.

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