“Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?” can be a dreaded question for interviewees. As you sit in an interview, there’s a great chance that you have already mentally prepared for this question. Or maybe not. Your brow may sweat as you feel a mental surge of anticipation for the long term. Knowing the rationale behind this question and doing some preparation ahead of time, you can be sure to handle this inquiry like a professional on interview day.
Five things to consider when preparing to answer “Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?”
DO understand why you’re being asked.
While five years is a long time from now, the interviewer is not asking you to predict the future. Rather, they are trying to do two things: 1) assess your commitment to this career move; and/or 2) see the ambitions you hold close to your heart. So, while envisioning society’s future might be fun, focus your ideas on your professional development and goals.
DON’T exaggerate, even to yourself.
“Taking over this place” is not an answer that will get you in the door. Think about where you truly see yourself. View yourself on a natural ascension up the corporate ladder. If you are just beginning your professional venture, it is realistic to say you’d like to be managing others in five years. It is not realistic to say you’d like to become the company’s CEO. Before the interview day, envision what you want out of this job, and what professional footprint it will make in your future.
DO emphasize experience versus the job title.
Worry much less about “job title.” Focus more on what you bring to the table and what you hope to achieve. Positions are created, switched, and reimagined all the time. Instead of racking your brain to figure out what your business cards will say, discuss your hard skills. For example, “I would take a lead role where possible and become a great supervisor.”
DON’T be brutally candid.
If you’re interviewing for a sales position within a financial institution, when in your heart, you’re hoping to become an engineer, this is not the time to advertise that fact. The interviewer is putting forth valuable time and energy on this hiring process, and if they know that you’re only doing this as a Plan B, it is not going to get you the job. So, while you should never falsify your answer to this question, you can certainly talk around it. Emphasize the experience you’d like to gain in this position and discuss how you’re excited to grow roots and develop professionally.
DO exhibit your devotion to the future.
An organization desires clarity that you’re not going to flee for another job, nor be someone who will give a spiritless effort to their position. When you talk about your ambitions for the next five years, make certain you highlight how the opportunity and the company will help you achieve that—and more importantly, reiterate what you bring to the table that will help the company progress in that time, as well.
So, where DO you see yourself in five years? It doesn’t require a crystal ball to answer this question, just some insightful talking points that show you’re the right person for a particular company and for the right reasons.
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