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The Best Approach When Answering "Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?"

Are you up for an interview? Then you should definitely have a plan on answering some of the most commonly asked questions. The question on your future, especially where you want yourself to be in the next few years is a very common question. And to be honest, not many of us, especially, those who are fresh out of college do not have a definitive objective on what they want to be in next 5 years. So how do you answer this question well?

The Expectation Behind the Question

First let us understand why the interviewer poses this question to you. The foremost reason is to see what you want to do with your career and whether the position you are interviewing for will help you in your plans. If it doesn’t, then you will be looked upon as a person who might quit anytime for pursuing your career path and the chances of you winning the interview becomes fairly lesser. Another reason is that a person who has a clear plan for the future will be self motivated and disciplined along with being proactive. And they definitely would want to hire someone with these personality traits.

What to Remember When You Prepare For This Question?

You should not be showing your aspirations to pursue more jobs in the future but should rather show your commitment towards the job you are interviewing for. You are required to show that you will be sticking around for long and not quit the moment you get a better offer.

Sample Answer: “To start with, I want to do my best in the role you are offering and learn everything about the industry. And with time, if there is an opportunity arises where my skills and experience can be put to a greater use, then I would be interested to pursue the same.”

The above answer ensures that you are committed to this job and yet doesn’t commit you to the company over a longer term.

Here are some tips to help you in approaching the question and tackling it efficiently.

Remember the Post You Have Applied For

Your desire to have the job is what you need to remember when answering the question. The question is designed to see the extent of getting hired into the company. Several jobs on the market needs to get the employees trained prior to introducing them on the floor and none of the companies would want to spend time and money on those who do not plan to stick around for long. So your answer should not imply that you might leave the organization or the current role shortly.

Be Generic and Yet Specific

Your answer should be specific to the job and yet generic in nature. You should not give any reason for the hiring panel to doubt your loyalty to the job or your commitment to the company. However, you should not promise your life to them either. You should keep your venues open and keep your answer in the reality zone. This is probably the only question in an interview where you can afford to be generic and yet ace the interview.

Display Enthusiasm

It is important to show the interviewer that you are excited and enthusiastic about the job and you are looking forward to working in the organization. It would help you immensely, if you do proper research about the organization and how the hierarchy works so that you can answer this question genuinely. With proper information, your answer would be more realistic and more to the point.

Don’t Be Over Imaginative

Do not say that your goal is to be the CEO of the company in the next 5 years which is possible only through a miracle. You need to be more realistic in your options and align your goal with that of the company in order to make a good impression. It would help if you can get prior information on the department you are interviewing for and the kind of structure and promotion criteria they follow, so that you can aspire realistically and confirm the same to the interviewer.

Don’t Use Positions

While you might have done your research, it is better not to commit yourself to any role in specific for the next 5 years. For instance,

Bad one: “I want to be head of operational excellence by the end of 5 years.”

While the above is a realistic option it is definitely not so, if there is no job title or designation by the name. it is therefore better to state in a more generic manner on what you want to be, which is,

Good one: “I want to be heading the department I join by the end of 5 years.”

Two Part Answers

Always answer your question in two parts, where the first one will emphasize on the amount of interest you have on the current job and the second one on your future career. A better answer would be in the lines of,

Sample Answer: “My current focus will be on the position I am interviewing for today and I am looking forward to learning within the role and progressing to newer and more challenging responsibilities as I grow in the organization. I would want to be part of exciting new projects and new challenges in the company.”

This answer not only lets the employer know that you love the current offer but it also states that you are looking forward to taking new responsibilities and challenges. Always remember that the ideal answer would be one where you include your passion for the current job while stating some realistic goals for the future. You have to reassure that you are the right candidate for the job.