How to answer the interview question – Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Even if this question isn’t specifically asked in the interview, it will be the elephant in the room. With this in mind, what do you need to consider when answering the question “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
Consider the intention behind the question
Recruitment is an expensive process. The hiring manager is looking for a strong return on investment. They’re looking for reassurance that you’ll be with them for at least a two year period to make the financials work.
They’re also keeping an eye on the future – balancing their immediate requirements with creating a team who can grow, allowing them realise their long term vision. You’ll need to show you’re adaptable to change and are happy to keep your skills up to date to meet emerging trends.
If you’ve done a lot of short term assignments in your recent career, expect to be probed. To provide comfort, highlight your track record on getting up to speed quickly and delivery projects on time. Explain why you’re looking for a permanent role, aligning your passions with the company’s offerings and vision.
Understand the hiring manager’s perspective
To answer this question well, it’s useful to understand the hiring mangers’ expectations. If you’re working with a head hunter, probe them on the company culture and the growth plans for the role. This will allow you build a picture of how long you’ll be expected to stay in the initial position, helping you pitch your answer appropriately. Another option is to look explore the career paths of those who’ve previously worked in this role on Linkedin. This may give you a sense of how quickly your career may grow and which directions are open to you.
An honest interview answer is best – don’t bluff it
If you don’t have a definite five year plan, call it out. Most businesses these days take five year plans with a pinch of salt, given the speed and volatility of the market place. Instead, change the timelines and focus on what you intend to achieve in your first twelve months, emphasising your commitment to continuous growth and development. You could also take the opportunity to highlight your key achievements, exploring how your skills may help the hiring manager achieve their own objectives. For example, if you’ve a passion for process improvement you could highlight how through working collaboratively with cross functional teams you’ve reengineered processes in your current company that have created significant cost saving. Explore how these skills could be transferred to the new role.
If approached strategically, this question gives you a platform to highlight your key selling points. By broadening your answer beyond the narrow confines of what’s asked, you can highlight your unique skills and reframe the question in a way that plays to your strengths.
About the author
Laura is a qualified executive coach, EMCC Certified with over 20 years’ experience in executive search and recruitment. She’s the owner of Interview Techniques, a leading provider of interview and career coaching services. For a consultation, please call 087 669 1192 or go to https://interviewtechniques.ie/contact/