Where do you see yourself five years from now?

In asking this question, the interviewer wants to see whether or not you are ambitious enough to have goals, as well as to gauge if these goals fall into line with the company’s goals. After all, there is no point in you joining the company, and the said company spending money to train you if in a few months you realize that this is not want you want to do, or that you’d rather be doing something else somewhere else which will help you get closer to your goals.

That being said, there is no way that the interviewer expects you know exactly where you want to be in 5 years. However, they do expect you to have a vague idea where you would like to me in the future. While this should be a straight forward answer, there are a lot of factors that can affect your answer. For starters, you may genuinely not know what you want or are undecided about the future. Alternately, it may be something personal or impractical, such as quit my job and travel the world. Or it may be something that does not align with the company, in fact you may not even like this company, but hey we have bills to pay. So, how should you answer this question?

Well for starters, your answer should not be generic. Try not to limit your answer to something like ‘I want to be at a management position in his company’ or ‘I see myself excelling at this company.’ Even though there is nothing wrong with these answers, and they will work in a pinch if you are stuck. However, keep in mind that the interviewer probably hears these 10 times a day and in the case of the latter, probably knows that you aren’t really being truthful.

Instead try to be honest, and slightly detailed in your answer. They want to see how you actually feel. Try to imagine your career path, where will it lead you in about 5 years? Close your eyes and try to image it, where do you want to be? But also try to be practical. How will you get there? Instead of just saying that you want the corner office and be in leadership position, focus on what needs to be done on the way. Also keep in mind the current job and its prospective future. After all if you are going in as marketing, you won’t say you want to be an artist.

Also highlight that you are in it for the long run; the interviewer shouldn’t think that you are just ambitious and that you will leave the company if things aren’t going your way. Also, highlight how exited you are about working there, it should show that your heart is in it. Avoid mentioning going back to school or starting your own business, this makes it seem that you may leave sooner or later. Even if you are planning on it, the interviewer doesn’t need to know it.

Sample Answer:

I am currently looking to work for a company that offers me opportunities to learn and grow. I feel like this is that company. I would like to take advantage of these opportunities to learn while also trying to advance my career by picking up new skills while also transitioning to a mentorship position so that I pay pass along these skills.

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