Time and time again, interviewers ask the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This can be a trick question depending on your response, but more often than not, the hiring manager is merely trying to uncover your career aspirations and determine how well they align with the organization and position you’re applying for. Even if you don’t see yourself at the company in five years, that is something you want to avoid mentioning during the interview. Continue reading to learn tips on how to answer this question like a pro so you land the job (even if it is just for now).
Why do hiring managers ask this question?
As mentioned before, employers are trying to determine if your goals match what the organization can offer. Ask yourself, what are your short and long-term goals? Are you looking to gain more skills? Are you interested in working on special projects? Are you working toward more responsibility within your role at the company? Do you want to learn a new skill or gain a certification? The more honest information they can gather from your response, the easier the decision will be for them when considering hiring you.
Finding good employees is hard enough, not to mention retaining them, especially in today’s job market. Organizations want their employees to want to stay for longer than five years. Employers are looking for stability. Long-term employees signify employee satisfaction and loyalty, which reflects positively on the company. Also, retaining employees is cost-effective. When turnover is low, businesses avoid costs like exit interviews, severance, or unemployment compensation. By asking this question, the hiring manager will be able to determine if you are serious and committed to the role in the long run, and if not, it could be a risky investment for the business.
How to answer the interview question
To answer this question candidly and to the best of your ability, think about where this job could take you in the future. How does the experience you will gain from the job align with your professional growth and goals? During the interview, ask the hiring manager what a typical day looks like on the job. If the duties you’ll be responsible for match what you’re looking for, explain that you’re an expert in those areas or that you’re eager to learn and gain experience within the specific industry or within the skill set. Finding common connections between your goals and the job responsibilities will help you determine if this is the right fit for you and vice versa.
You should be clear and confident when describing your five-year plan and emphasize that you’re excited and very interested in the opportunity and what you’ll learn along the way. Avoid saying, “I don’t know,” and use these examples.
Example 1: “In five years, I’m looking to deepen my knowledge and become an expert in (ABC). To achieve this, I plan on (taking an online course, getting a specific certification, and attending workshops). I see myself making an impact through these opportunities.”
Example 2: “As a (job title), I want to develop my skill set. I saw that your organization offers employees a (specific training program or course) that I hope to complete. My new skills would help me say that I am the best at my job here at (company name).
Example 3: “My goal right now is to join a company where I can build a career. I want to take on more responsibilities and tasks like (ABC and XYZ) over time. I want to be viewed as a top performer who is a key contributor to (company name).”
Your answer should be unique to your career and short and long-term goals. Before your interview, take time to decide what these are. From there, you’ll be able to craft and practice a response that includes and highlights your strengths and potential for success.
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