Where do
you see yourself
in five years?

Where do you see yourself in five years has got to be one of the most feared questions in any job interview. When you're on the job hunt it can be difficult to plan even just a few weeks ahead, let alone the next five years.

That's why we're here to put your mind at ease and to show you this shouldn't be a question to dread.

Why everyone hates this question

We all have our own personal reasons for hating this one, but you'll find some common themes among candidates. Many might be at the start of their careers and haven't really decided what they want to do yet. Most of us also tend to live with the short term future in mind and haven't thought far ahead. Finally, none of us really knows what the future holds, meaning it can be difficult to plan.

How often does this question come up in interviews

This is one of the most common interview questions you'll get, and recruiters love it. Our advice is to always be well prepared beforehand for this one.

Is it a good question to ask someone seeking a new role?

Yes, most definitely. This question not only gives the employer a clear idea whether a candidate has a long term career plan, it also shows that they'll be committed to the company. Studies have shown that those with specific monthly, daily and annual goals can achieve far more than those who only have a rough plan or no plan at all.

It's always best to go into a job interview armed with a specific career plan, even if you might be amending the plan in the future.

Example of good answer

Let's use an example of someone who has been in their chosen career for the last 15 years. How should they answer where they'll be in the next five?

"While it can be difficult to predict the future exactly, I absolutely love my role working in ZYZ and definitely see myself in the same field in five years. I plan to build on the 15 years of experience I already have and to expand my responsibilities into a higher grade managerial role. I set myself daily and monthly goals to improve my organisational and team leadership skills and would love to grow with your organization.

Here, our imaginary candidate has committed to the company, has given a specific goal and set out how they plan to achieve it. It really is as simple as this!

Don't be vague

This makes you seem very uninvested and uninterested in the company.

Set your ambitions

If you'd like to rise through the ranks, make this clear. This can show enthusiasm and interest.

Match your goals to the job description

Does the job description leave scope for you to grow? Perfect, mention how you plan to do this.

Mention your flexibility

It can be difficult to stick to a full five year plan, mention flexibility as one of your strengths as your plan evolves with a changing situation.

Prepare ahead of time

Actually write out a five year plan for your ideal future. This will make the interview much easier.

Keep it work related

No need to mention your personal plans here. Just keep it professional.

Need more advice?
Why not head on over to UPChapter.com/interview-questions? You'll find dozens of articles, tools and guides to help you plan your five year future and land that dream job.
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Where do
you see yourself
in five years?