Ideal responses for one of the trickiest interview questions.
This one is right up there with “tell me your top five strengths and weaknesses.” In an ideal world, prospective employers would only ask about your workplace experiences (teamwork, job responsibilities, how you handled projects, etc.) and draw their own conclusions about you as an employee from there.
But that doesn’t always happen. Some companies have set questions they ask potential employees to weed out undesirable candidates from the rest of the applicants. Asking where you see yourself in five years is one of those questions.
Your answer can tell them something about your drive, your desire to keep working at their company, and where you think this position fits into your career and overall life.
Here are our tips on how to best answer.
Focus on Upward Movement
Most employers want an employee that plans on improving over time. They don’t want you to be content with the same responsibilities year after year. The expectation is that you’ll come to master some of your responsibilities, and be able to handle more work (whether that means just more duties or an outright promotion).
So when they ask where you see yourself in five years, don’t say the same position. Aim for a management position, just not the position your possible manager has (you don’t want to seem like you’re gunning for their job). Find a specific position if you can (___supervisor, ___manager, etc.), not just “a management position.” Note that you hope to use all of the experience and responsibilities you will pick up in this position in your future career.
Show Your Passion for Learning
Employers love employees that love to learn. If you’re constantly improving yourself, you’re continually making yourself a more talented and desirable employee.
In five years, you want to still be learning, still honing your skills. Whether that means obtaining a certain metric (___ number of customer services calls an hour, ____ increase in page views on a website, ___% increase in product production time, etc.), taking continual online training courses, obtaining a certification, or earning a degree, tell your interviewer about it. Make sure to associate all of that learning with the position you’re interviewing for, and how it will help the company as a whole.
Illustrate Your Desire to Stay At the Company
General turnover is higher now than in previous years. The current economy is a job seeker’s market. That means employers are looking for people who are in it for the long haul. When they ask you about where you want to be in five years, tell them you plan to be at ___ company. Mention a project you’ve read about online that’s coming up in the future you’d like to be a part of, or a future product you want to help create.
Research the company’s upcoming plans (news releases are great for this). Is there anything that looks like it will be launching within the next five years or so? Mention you want to be involved in that, and you’ll show that you really know the company.
And that’s how to answer the question!
Show you’re a stellar employee with real goals who truly wants the position. That’s what they’re asking for, anyway. “Do you really want this job? Will you work hard at this job? Are you in this for the long haul? Okay, then prove it.”
And now you’re ready to do just that.
Have you ever had to answer this question? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!