“Where do you see yourself if five Years?” is a common interview question that should be answered with care. A recruiter or hiring manager is really assessing your level of interest and, according to The Muse, whether the position aligns with your long-term goals.
The employer requires assurance that you are not intent on leaving if something better comes along. Your response can also inform a hiring manager as to how realistic your expectations are. Jacquelyn Smith, Careers Editor for Business Insider, recommends answering the question in a way that does not seem arrogant, and that does not reveal intentions that might be contrary to those that the employer is seeking.
Here are some ways to skillfully answer the question.
- Show ambition.
“I would like to be seen as someone with skills in X, Y, and Z in five years. This job would give me the experience to achieve that goal because of the opportunity to A, B and C.” This answer shows that you have a long-term plan and that you intend to commit to the job at hand.
- Show that the job aligns with your career goals.
“I would like to take on more of a leadership role in projects in the next five years and this position would prepare me for that responsibility, or give me the opportunity to eventually take on a lead role.” This response tells the interviewer that the job fits with your long-term development plans but that you realize the process is going to take time.
- If you are uncertain about your professional career five years from now, it is fine to be honest.
Respond that you are not sure what the future holds but you feel that this position will help you to fine-tune your ultimate goals. A response to this, if carefully parsed, can show that you are flexible yet ambitious.
These responses allow you to be honest without saying something that the hiring manager may not want to hear. Responses to avoid are those that show that you have not put much thought into your long-term plans, responses that imply you might usurp the interviewer’s job, or that you are not overly committed to the current job.