Some standard questions that show up in almost every interview process include, “Why are you seeking a new job?” or behavioral questions that begin with, “Tell me about a time when you…” But another common question that crops up is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” While we don’t know what it is about five years that somehow is the magic number employers have settled on, it is probably a question that you’ll want to formulate an answer to in advance. Some of the standard responses that you make think about in your head may not come across well during the interview. We’ve compiled a few responses that are polite, professional, and strike the right tone with employers.
Best Response to the Five-Year Question
The first thing to consider is where the job could take you in the future? Saying something like, “In five years I want to run this place,” can come across as sarcastic at worst and unrealistic at best. Think about the general expertise you will learn or how the job will prepare you for a move up the corporate ladder. What will the job potentially teach you, and how will that align with your personal and professional goals? Do you want to hone your managerial skills or become an expert in the industry you’re working in?
Many people, especially those just starting on a career path, simply may not know where the job could take them. It’s fine to say you don’t know exactly what the future might hold, but you’re looking for an opportunity to broaden your skills, whether they are to become better at customer service or to learn a new piece of software.
Think about what the interviewer wants to hear from you:
- That you’re going to stay with the company during that time.
- That your long-term career goals fit within the corporate mission and vision.
Next, think about the company and what they value. If they offer tuition assistance and seem to value training and growth, perhaps you talk about how you’d like to go through a training program they offer or participate in a mentorship program, or maybe receive some sort of credentials or additional degree.
The idea is for you to take your goals and filter them through the funnel of what’s valued at that company. Make the goals that you share with the interviewer relevant to the position and realistic. Skip any flippant answers like, “I want to win the lottery,” or “I want to retire at 25 from my bitcoin portfolio.” Be professional, warm, and enthusiastic. Express your commitment to the company, even though you may not be entirely sure about the position yet.
But what if you don’t yet know what career path is open to you at the company? In this case, stick to generalities, like, “I hope to hone my organizational skills in this role.” You can talk about your personal goals, like, “I’d like to finish my BA,” or, “I want to work toward my CPA.” Certainly, don’t say you want to use the role as a stepping-stone to a better company—even if it might be true.
Top Stack can connect you with top employers and help you prep for your interview. Call now.