If you are looking for a job and preparing for your interview, there is a very high chance that you may have heard of this common interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’
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In this article today, we will look at the 6 following aspects-
1. The big truth about this question- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
2. What NOT to say when answering this question?
3. What do recruiters want?
4. What to actually say?
5. Top 3 answers to- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Let us jump right in.
If you prefer watching the video, feel free to go through it. Or you can continue reading below.
The big truth– Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The big truth is that this is a trick question and a lot of recruiters use it to identify and eliminate candidates who do not fit the company’s goals.
Now, this may not apply to 100% of the recruiters, but for the majority of them, this question is meant to understand the candidate’s real aspirations and then decide whether they align with the company’s long term objectives or not. If they do, great, but if they don’t, then the recruiters may reject them.
What NOT to say when answering this question?
There are some common answers that should be totally avoided when answering this question.
We are not saying to be dishonest with the interviewer, however, let’s understand that you are applying for a job and not sitting and having a candid talk with your career coach. Hence, your deepest desires and ambitions should be reserved for another day.
1. I don’t know – Recruiters always prefer people who are confident and sure of themselves. Hence, by saying I don’t know you are raising doubts about your own abilities to the recruiter. Never say this.
2. I see myself as 5 years older – Some candidates think that this is a funny answer and by saying this, they can cleverly avoid this question. Do not do this. Why? The recruiter has asked you this question because he/she specifically wants to check something about you. A strong and to the point reply will multiply your chances of getting selected.
3. I see myself as getting married and having kids– This is a big no, never say this. Why? When do you get married or how many kids you have will not add any value to the company. How well you can contribute to this job will. Hence, avoid personal answers.
4. I want to be the CEO or the General manager of the company– In most cases, this will not be realistically possible in 5 years. If you are starting as an Assistant Manager, you cannot become the CEO or General Manager in 5 years. These are top positions and require years of consistent performance. By still saying so, recruiters may find you to be naive.
5. I want to be sitting in your place– Never say this as all people have their own struggles to reach where they are in their lives. Some recruiters may not take this answer well, as they may feel that you are undermining their position (if they have taken 15 years to reach where they are, how can you claim to be there in 5 years?). Hence, avoid this answer to be on the safe side.
6. I want to be doing my own business after 5 years: We can say with a huge degree of certainty that the majority of people who are working have at some point in their lives, imagined themselves doing their own business. It is great to have these aspirations (maybe even the recruiter has them), however, it should never be mentioned here. Why? The recruiter will get the impression that this candidate is here for the short term and may leave the company soon. And they may refrain from hiring such candidates.
7. I want to pursue higher education: As mentioned before, the recruiter is not your career coach or your career counselor. Hence, saying this in the interview may jeopardize your chances, since recruiters don’t want to hire someone who at the time of the interview itself, is very sure of leaving the job.
8. Being too specific about your salary or designation– Example- Do NOT say that you want to be a Senior Manager or the General manager with USD 10,000 monthly salary in 5 years. Why? There are chances that in 5 years this may not be practically possible in this company. Or maybe the designation is possible but not the salary or vice versa. Also, some recruiters may not see you as ambitious if you say this, but instead, feel that you are overconfident. Hence, it is best to avoid this answer.
What do recruiters want?
Let us first understand that hiring is a very expensive process for the company. Expensive both in terms of time and money.
The 2017 talent acquisition benchmarking report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) concluded that the average hiring cost per employee was USD 4,425. It also found out that the average time to fill a position was 36 days for the company. Pretty expensive and time-consuming right?
Hence, the recruiters want to hire someone who is committed and will stick to the job and the company for the long term. They also want someone who is really motivated for this job and not anybody who is just looking for a temporary solution to their unemployment.
Another thing to note is that the interviewer’s own reputation is also at stake here. If they hire someone who leaves the company in say three months, they will look really bad in front of the management. Hence, it becomes even more important for them to hire someone who stays long term and is actually motivated for this job.
What to actually say when answering- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
5 years is a very long time and nobody can accurately predict what surprise life has in store for each one of us 🙂 Interviewers also understand this and hence they are not looking for a specific answer from you.
In fact, this is one of the rare interview questions where you should always give a very general answer– this will certainly be a safer bet.
However, include the below 2 points in your general answer, and it will always work-
1. Say that you want to learn and grow in this company.
2. Mention that you want to build a long term career here.
If your answer talks about these above 2 points, more often than not, the recruiter will be satisfied and you will increase your chances of being selected. In the next section, let us see how you can include these 2 points and frame a great answer.
Top 3 answers to- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Let us look at the top 3 sample answers to this interview question. We will assume 3 different situations and an answer for each. You can choose the one which suits you the best.
Sample Answer 1- General answer, can be used anywhere
“I am looking for a company where I can grow professionally over the next 5 years and beyond. I am not really stuck-up on titles, but I want to get more team responsibilities as I progress over time. In short, I want to work with a company where I can build a long term career.”
Sample Answer 2- If you already know someone working in the company who is a very good performer
“In the next 5 years, I want to be working for a company where I can continuously develop my skills, take on challenging projects, and learn from the best people around me. I know some very smart and intelligent people who work here and hence I want to build my career here.”
If you give this answer, there are high chances that the recruiter may ask you about these people you know in the company. So be ready for it. Mention only those people who are very good performers and have a strong reputation.
Sample Answer 3- If it is a big company which gives the flexibility to work in different teams and projects
“5 years from now, my objective is to be much better at marketing than what I am today. Getting a chance to work for your company will help me achieve this goal because of the flexibility here of working in different teams. This is what really excites me, as I will have the opportunity to learn from the best people in the industry. Hence, I look forward to building my career here.”
Let us look below at some of the similar types of questions to this common job interview question- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? –
- Can you define your long-term career goals?
- What are you looking for in your career?
- Do you think this job is the right move at this stage in your career?
- Can you specify what is most important to you in your career?
The same 3 sample answers can be used for answering any of these above questions.
As mentioned before, this is a trick question and needs to be answered carefully. Recruiters are looking for red flags and may eliminate any candidate whom they think will not stick for the long term. Hence, always go for a very general answer (like the 3 sample answers above) as this will be a safer bet in most cases.
We wish you the best of luck and hope you get your dream job very soon.
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