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How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

September 11, 2021

It’s a question dreaded by job hunters. Where do you see yourself in five years is perhaps one of the trickier job interview questions to get right.

There’s no shortage of things you shouldn’t say in this situation, including, “in your job”, “running my own business”, or “running this place”.

So, if you can’t say what you’re thinking, what should you say instead? 

With a little bit of practice, you can answer this question with confidence in a way that lets the interviewer know that you are an ambitious and passionate individual. And remember, it’s completely fine if you don’t have a five-year career plan. The employer simply wants to know more about your ambition and drive.

So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This can feel like a trick question intended to catch you out, but it really isn’t. Not many people start a new role expecting to be there for the next five years, but you don’t have to be so brutally honest when you say you won’t still be working for the company.

Instead, you can skirt around the reality and paint an excellent picture of yourself in the process. They aren’t asking where specifically you’ll be, but they are asking what ambition you have for yourself.

If you want to move into a management role, you need to think about how this role can help you develop the skills to get there. And if you think that your current role is being phased out due to automation and AI, talk about how you would like to be at the forefront of this revolution.

Talk about your ambition

You don’t have to be specific about the next five years. You could simply talk about your ambition and how you see this role fitting into your plans. Every company wants to think that the people they hire will stay put for as long as possible, but this isn’t realistic. Instead, they accept that they will stay with the company as long as there are opportunities for growth.

Use this opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. For example, if you know the company has received a lot of investment and is on the cusp of expansion, talk about how you would like to grow with the company.

Talk about additional training

You don’t have to have a clear plan for your career development. Sometimes, all you know is that you want to learn more and see where it takes you. If you have any career development training in mind, talk about this in the interview. This could include developing skills you already have or learning brand new skills.

How to Answer "Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?" CMD Recruitment

Example answers for this question

“I’m really excited by this opportunity with Asterix Accounting as I’m very keen to develop my skills as a company accountant. While I’ve worked as a junior accountant in the past, I believe I’m ready for the next step in my career. I’ve also been very lucky to work under some excellent managers during my career, so I would be keen to put this experience to work by taking on the challenge of managing my own team.”

“I was drawn to this position with Crawford Law as I am keen to put everything I’ve learned during my time at university into practice. While I feel confident in my current position, I know I have a lot to learn and I would be interested in taking on additional training to help refine my skills. In five years, I would hope to be helping recent graduates find their footing in their first role and would love to take on the task of training and developing new hires. I’ve had a lot of excellent teachers and mentors to rely on over the years, and I’m very drawn to this aspect of working for such as prestigious firm.”

“I’m not sure what my future holds, but I am committed to exploring every avenue available to me. I recently attended a short training course that helped me to develop skills in negotiation, so I would be interested in exploring this further in my next role. The last thing I would want would be to become comfortable and stagnant, so I would want to continue developing different skills that can make me more useful in my role.”

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