Answering ‘Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?’: 4 Considerations
Answering the question of “where do you see yourself in 5 years” can seem impossible when you’re just leaving college or graduation is on the horizon. And truthfully, you may not get it right every time. There could be some different iterations that you want to try out through trial and error based on your specific situation.
In the following article, we’ll be exploring this question at length. How do you answer it if you have a clear idea of your plans in five years? Are those plans realistic, or do they make you seem a little too “pie in the sky”? And what about if you don’t know where you want to be in five years? Along with these situations, we’ll be looking at explaining career changes, job-hopping, and what to say if you have no experience but want to give it your best shot? Let’s begin!
If You Know
The best way to answer this question is by talking about your goals and ambitions in a way that’s relatable to the position you’re interviewing for. Employers ask this question because they want to know if you have a plan. They want to know that you’re optimistic about your future and that you’re going to put in the work to achieve your goals. They want to know that you’re not just looking to coast by.
Talk about what you want to be doing in five years and how you plan to get there. They want to know if you have a long-term plan for your career. It shows that you’re ambitious and that you’re putting thought into your future. It’s also a way for the employer to get an idea of what kind of long-term potential you have with the company. No employer wants to pour thousands of dollars into onboarding you, training you, and developing you as an employee only to find out they’ll be losing you in a few years. You have to stick around long enough to be worth the investment.
If You Don’t
If you don’t know where you want to be in five years, then figure out what your values are and what you want your life to look like. Nobody wants to hire someone who doesn’t have a plan for their own career. If you’re just looking for a job to pay the bills or you’re hoping for a paycheck without any kind of passion for the job, then that’s not going to be a good fit for a company. This is a tricky one. You want to make sure you don’t sound too cocky or arrogant, so it’s important to be honest about your goals, but you don’t want to upset the interviewer by saying you’re not sure if you’ll still be with the company in five years.
Your answer to this question should always be focused on the value you can bring to the company. You should always be thinking about how you can add value to the company anyways! After all, that is what an employer is looking for. Your interviewer wants to know where you see yourself in the future, but he or she also wants to know if you’ll be satisfied in the position you’re interviewing for. If you foresee yourself being in a different position in five years’ time, don’t be afraid to say so.
Explaining Career Changes
If you’re looking for a job and you’ve had to change jobs a lot, it’s important that you explain yourself. There’s no rule that says you can’t explain why you’ve changed jobs so often, and the best way to do that is to just be honest. It’s not uncommon for people to have several jobs in their twenties and thirties. The important thing to remember is that you want to show your career progression and that you’re always adding value.
If you’re switching jobs every year or so, that could be a red flag for employers. However, focusing on the value you’ve created at each employer is a way of turning this question to your advantage. Emphasize positive relationships you’ve had with fellow colleagues. Point to some clear accomplishments that take the interviewer’s mind off the short tenure.
With No Experience
The key to impressing employers is to show them your work. If you’re a student or graduate, you might not have a lot of experience yet, but you can still show them a portfolio of your previous work.
In conjunction with this, you can point out that you hope to quickly add value to the team and learn from the existing team members. Too often, students and recent graduates get unfairly pegged as being know-it-alls unwilling to listen to more seasoned individuals. Show respect for those seasoned employees by pointing out that, while your work in school has prepared you to break into the industry, you know your path to five years will only be successful if you can be on the front lines learning from the experience and expertise of those already doing the work.
Answering ‘Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?’ Can Seem Impossible
The “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question is one that students absolutely struggle with, and with good reason. How do you convince employers they should take a chance on you when you don’t have the work experience? Well, as you’ve seen above, there are ways to turn this question to your advantage. It just takes a little advanced planning and confidence in your delivery. Prepare with a friend, or record your efforts to nail the delivery. As you refine your approach, things will get smoother, and you’ll be able to project the right amount of confidence to convince a new employer to take a chance on you.
Now it’s your turn, community. Have you ever had to answer this question in a job interview? If so, what were some of your answers (good and bad), and what were the ultimate outcomes? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by The Lee Group]