Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What do you hope to achieve in this role?
Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 2 years, 10 years, 20 years, etc?
What are your short term aspirations?
What steps are you taking to achieve your longer term career goals?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” hits both 2 & 3.
2 – The employer is looking to see if you are someone who will do the job. If your 5 year plan is to be a rally car driver (as a very cool example) and you are applying for a long-term full-time office position then the interviewer will be weary about taking you on. Similarly it may be that the role will be rapidly expanding and the person who takes up the mantle will be expected to take on more responsibility and ‘climb the ladder’ quickly. If you are someone that is just looking to tread the water and remain in the same position long term then this is something that is best figured out at the interview stage.
3 – Will you fit in? Similar to what was said above, the interviewer will be looking to see if your 5 year goals match the firm’s 5 year goals. It is a good idea therefore when you are researching your prospective employer that you look for any public statements the firm has made regarding their future plans. As an example you might read that the firm is looking to expand into other countries, you could use this question as an opportunity to say that in 5 years time you hope to be working overseas or to have established more global connections in your industry.
How Best To Answer ‘Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years’ Questions
The usual recommendation for how to fully and succinctly answer interview questions is to follow the B-STAR technique. This answering method allows the interviewee to be able to state both their thoughts/feelings on the subject but also back it up with a real world example showing the candidates experience in the matter.
For this question we are going to change it up a little bit. Instead of B-STAR we only need B-A. (There is no S-T because there’s no example to share, and we can’t give R because there’s no results to speak of as the 5 years haven’t happened yet!)
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? – Answer the question truthfully, don’t just tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. You don’t want to take up a position where their five year plan is completely misaligned with what your goals are. So ask yourself where do you want to be in 5 years time? If you don’t know where you want to be then it is worth taking some time to think about it prior to your interview.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them – For this question instead of ‘detail the steps you took’ you should ‘detail the steps you will take’. If your 5 year goal is to be a qualified accountant (as an example) you could detail how you plan to study toward the exams during night classes.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ – Example answers
Example 1 – Junior PM
As a junior project manager, I see myself in five years as a seasoned project manager with a proven track record of successfully leading teams and delivering projects on time and within budget. I aim to have honed my skills in project management methodologies, risk assessment, and stakeholder management. Additionally, I would like to have developed expertise in a specific industry and have contributed to its growth and development. In the long term, I hope to use my experience and knowledge to mentor and guide other aspiring project managers.
Example 2 – Trainee solicitor
As a trainee solicitor, I see myself in five years having completed my training contract and qualified as a solicitor. I aim to have gained broad experience in several practice areas, and to have developed expertise in a specific area of law. I also hope to have established a strong reputation as a competent and reliable solicitor, able to provide practical and effective legal advice to clients. In the long term, I aim to continue learning and growing as a legal professional, taking on new challenges and opportunities to serve my clients and advance my career.
Example 3 – Generic Answer
As someone entering a new field, I see myself in five years having gained a strong foundation in the industry and a reputation as a dedicated and skilled professional. I hope to have taken on increasing responsibilities and challenging projects, developing a broad range of skills and expertise. I also aim to have established a network of colleagues and industry contacts, and to have made a meaningful contribution to the field. Ultimately, I hope to be known as a knowledgeable and reliable professional, ready to take on new opportunities and continuously grow and develop.
Other Interview Question and Answers
79 Civil Service Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
94 Project Manager Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
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