How should you approach interview questions that inquire about where you see yourself in 5 years? What is the best way to capture and relay your future in a few short sentences? At first glance, this seems like a particularly vague question. Plus, there are so many different things that might happen within the next few years; how do you decide which things are important to include, and which you should exclude? A question like this can leave you a bit anxious and apprehensive as you find yourself attempting to quickly figure out how to make it seem like you have a firm grasp of where you’re going.
We understand how stressful and difficult it can be to organize your thoughts regarding this question on the spot. Because of this, we have provided you with a framework you can easily follow in order to communicate your most important visions of the future, and knock this question out of the park.
What Should You include?
If your interviewer asks you where you see yourself in 5 years, it is likely they simply want to know where you generally believe your life is headed. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. Of course, they likely want to know where you see yourself professionally in the next few years, and don’t care too much about your travel aspirations or relationship goals, but the question is straightforward. They want to know that you have put thought into your life direction, and that you are positive about your goals. In order to relay this information effectively, it is important to go into your interview with a plan. For your convenience, we have devised a general framework you can follow in order to create your plan. When answering this question, there are three key focuses: your commitment to this job, your enthusiasm for this job, and honesty.
You want to weave the notion of your commitment to the company throughout your reply. You can say things along the lines of “I would enjoy eventually being a manager of this company,” or “I have really great ideas about how to expand the influence of this company.” Make it very clear you intend to work at this company for a significant period of time.
Remember; you’re being interviewed for a job, which is a commitment. Your interviewer is likely not searching for a candidate who explains they see themselves working for a different company in a few years. It is very important to shape your answer in a way that emphasizes your commitment to the company. Interviewers like to see genuine interest in the company, and also like to know they can rely on you being around in the case they do hire you. They do not wish to waste their time on somebody who will only be present for a few months before moving onto their real career path. This said, it is also important to genuinely be interested in the company. You shouldn’t have to fake your interests. Do you actually want to work for a company you find disinteresting? Evaluate why you are applying for this job in the first place, and then plan how you can naturally incorporate this notion of commitment into your answers. Yes, they can tell if you’re faking it.
Answer this question enthusiastically, and do not be afraid to express your excitement for potentially working for the company, or even for being asked to an interview. For instance, you can explain you have been preparing for this position for a great deal of time, and that you are excited to see what all you can accomplish for the company over the next 5 years.
Professionalism is very important, and it should be your primary focus, but it is very possible to express enthusiasm while still remaining professional. Interviewers will not remember the candidates who spoke in a monotone voice, or those who generally seemed indifferent to being rewarded the position. They will, however, remember those who spoke with passion and demonstrated genuine excitement for the company. The idea is that if you are already showing passion and enthusiasm that early on in your involvement with the company, you will be incredibly effective later on when you are actually working. Of course, you shouldn’t seem artificially enthusiastic, but as previously discussed, you shouldn’t have to merely fake your enthusiasm; you should at least be mildly enthusiastic about your new job opportunity with this company!
You should be honest! You are not psychic, and you shouldn’t act like you know precisely how your life will play out. Because of this, it is okay to concede that you aren’t entirely sure where you will be in 5 years.
That being said, you should have a general idea of your direction, or at least a goal you’re working towards achieving, and you should mention these things. However, it is overall unwise to give a very detailed blueprint. Your interviewer simply wants to know you are committed to working for the company, and that you are positive about your future. They don’t want, or need, to know every detail about what you think will happen. They also might perceive you as generally unrealistic and/or unaware, and the company probably doesn’t want an unrealistic or unaware person working for them. It is certainly okay to not know what the future holds for you, and in fact, it can appear particularly insightful and bold if you explain that you aren’t totally sure about it. Just be honest!
Interviews provide wonderful opportunities to communicate why you are actually the most suitable candidate for the job. Because of this, it is important to understand how to best navigate them, and use them to your advantage. Review and follow this framework in order to create a plan for this seemingly intimidating question regarding your future.
Remember, when your interviewer asks where you see yourself in 5 years, they really just want to know where you believe your life is headed, both at a personal and corporate level so try to strike a balance between the two [of course slightly leaning towards the corporate side]. Simply incorporate how committed you are to the company, your enthusiasm for the job, and relay it in a very honest manner.