“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Asks (almost) every interviewer ever.
“I am sorry, I don’t own a crystal ball”, said no candidate ever.
Answering where you would be 5 years from now may seem unrealistic initially, but the interviewer isn’t expecting you to predict your future. So, what is it precisely that the hiring managers want to know; what is the right way to answer it? This article covers all of it, along with some sample answers for ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’.
The reason behind asking where you see yourself in 5 years
Interviewers ask this question to understand more about your career aspirations. They essentially look for the key points below through your answers:
1. Your long-term goals
The hiring managers want to know your long-term objectives to get a sense of how ambitious and self-driven you are. There is no secret recipe for success, but your answer can show your clarity towards your career aspirations and your zeal to grow and succeed in your professional life.
2. How your career aspirations align with the company and the role
Employers prefer to hire candidates who are more likely to stay with the company for the long term. Thus they would like to see how your career aspirations fit with the company’s long-term plans. They are unlikely to hire someone who sees the role merely as a stepping stone and hop on to the next job as soon as they get a better offer.
HackerTrail Insider Tip: Share specific long-term goals with your future manager. For instance, you may mention that you want to develop skills that will help you become a ‘people’s manager’.
Tips for answering where you see yourself in 5 years
There is no right or wrong way to answer the question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” One way is to think of all possible career aspiration examples, some of which you might use in the interview.
It is also okay if you haven’t yet figured out your long-term career aspirations. However, you can begin preparing a great answer by reflecting on what you want your future resume to look like.
Ask yourself certain things like:
- Is there a specific position or job title you want on your resume
- Certain technical or soft skills that should be added to your profile
- Or some achievements that you wish to see in your resume
Once you are clear about what your future profile should look like, come up with the best answer to Where do you see yourself in 5 years by keeping the below points in mind:
1. Be ambitious yet realistic
When answering “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, present yourself as someone who has a firm grip on his/her career aspirations. Craft your answer concisely and eloquently based on thorough research about the company and the position you are being interviewed for.
Make the best use of this research to identify a role in the company that you want to take up in the future. Think about how the current position will benefit your career aspirations and goals. Ensure that you sound ambitious and confident but not over-achieving.
For instance, explicitly mentioning a position name or a comprehensive scheme for getting promotions in the company can appear overly ambitious. Also, refrain from mentioning a dream job or role that is entirely different from the one you are currently being interviewed for.
While going through your website, I found an excellent internal training program for this position. In the next five years, I want to be a part of this training and fast-track my career.
I also see myself progressing in my career with an organisation where I can enhance my skills and get exposure to opportunities in the area of X.
I admire your organisation’s interest in employee growth as you provide ample opportunities for career development. The commitment that your company shows toward employee growth will motivate me to work harder to achieve my professional goals too.
2. Avoid being too specific
Where do you see yourself in 5 years is one interview question that requires you to be generic rather than specific. While being honest and truthful is important, giving out too many details can create doubt in the interviewers’ minds about your suitability for the job and the company.
No matter your career aspirations, showing your interest in a different industry, a complete career switch, or even entrepreneurship dreams will raise a red flag.
In the next five years, I wish to work with a company where I can best utilise my skills, further my education, and work on diverse and interesting projects. I am also excited at the prospect of getting to collaborate and learn from some of the industry's most brilliant minds working here. And as I learn and get mentored by the finest, I also envision myself as an industry expert to whom others can reach out for mentorship or help in any form, from ideas to strategy.
HackerTrail Insider Tip: Help the employers to understand what projects/initiatives might fit into your agenda. Pick 1 or 2 names working at the company and share along the lines of - it would be great to work with XYZ on SAMPLE PROJECT ABC, e.g., a data lake project for all business divisions in this cluster.
3. Emphasise your Long-Term commitment
Every employer wants employees who are there to stay. Your answer should reflect your long-term interest in the organisation and how you intend to stay and grow there.
Having more than a few brief employment tenures on your CV is essential. Frequent job switches are generally frowned upon by recruiters, so come up with long-term career aspiration examples that make it evident that you intend to stay with the company for long. An employer spends a lot of time and energy training and upskilling a recruit. Demonstrate through your answer that you are worth investing in.
My professional goals for the next five years are to establish myself as a data analytic expert and progress to a management position within my department. Also, as part of my career aspirations, I would like to improve my knowledge in this field and take a formal course in data analytics. I am thrilled with the support and guidance that the company provides for training and learning purposes.
I want to make the best use of the company’s learning and development policies and work towards my professional development. 5 years from now, I envision myself working on new and fascinating initiatives at your company that will prepare me for a managerial post.
What appears to be a hypothetical question gives the interviewer crucial information about the candidate. Prepare for this question by considering the job description, your interests and your goals. Think through all possible career aspirations examples and articulate an answer that communicates what makes you the best for the job.
Once you have the perfect answer, it’s time to ace that interview!
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