How to Answer: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
While you don’t have to have an exact answer about the path you want your career to take, your answer should convey what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. It’s also important that at least one component of your answer relates back to the job you’re interviewing for.
Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your answer.
Be honest but don’t go into too much detail.
While it’s important to be honest in every part of the interview process, if the real answer to this question is “Not at this job,” or “Winning my first Oscar,” then we suggest focusing instead on what you can learn from the position and how those lessons will fit into your long-term career goals. Start by outlining a goal you’ve set for yourself and then explain why the role you’re interviewing for is an important part of your personal and professional growth.
Outline the steps you plan to take to reach your goals.
Once you’ve established your ideal career path, briefly outline the steps you intend to take to get there. For example, if your goal is to be a sales manager, explain how you plan to advance from an entry-level role to a more senior one.
Pro Tip: Keep your answer focused and concise — ideally no more than 1-2 sentences.
Show that you’re committed to sticking with the company.
Interviewers hiring for an internship or entry-level job are aware that you’re not going to be in that position forever, but they want to know that you’re committed to doing a good job while you’re there. The best way to convince them of that is to paint a picture of how the position aligns with your other goals and to show that you’re committed to making the most of the experience in every possible way.
Say something like: “In five years I see myself in a sales manager position where I am directly responsible for strategizing and implementing ways to increase my company’s annual revenue. I plan to start by working on small business sales and building my way up to mid-market sales within two years. My five-year goal is to move into enterprise sales and manage my own accounts with big companies. The most important thing though, is that I want to work for a company where I can really build a career and learn.”
Although you may not be sure of your long-term professional aspirations, answering this question is a great opportunity to show that you’re thoughtfully considering your future and looking for a role that will align with your goals, while also helping to shape those goals. This kind of thoughtfulness is likely to not only impress potential employers but to convince them that you’re worth investing in as an employee.