Tackling your next Interview FAQ: AKA how to answer the five years’ time question.
Not so familiar with this question? It tends to be as simply put as its possible answers are open…
“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”
When you’re not prepared for this question your brain usually goes in one of a few directions.
- A) You wonder how you can possibly answer this when you’ve not had the chance to think beyond the interview. You might not be much of a planner in the first place, preferring to take life day-by-day.
- B) Your brain may be working its way right up the ranks of the company (or perhaps the ranks of its competitors!), suddenly making you the person sitting in the interviewer’s chair.
- C) You start daydreaming about that one dream career you still haven’t tried yet.
Before you launch into a response that steers you too far in any of these directions, let’s consider the purpose of this interview question.
In other words, ask yourself why your interviewer is asking this question?
Take yourself right back to the reason you’ve been invited to meet with the company in the first place. They want to know how you’ll suit the role that you’re interviewing for and the team that you may soon be a part of.
This question is a subtle probe into your career goals and how the vacancy fits within these…or not!
So, how should you answer?
Bring your thoughts straight back to the job that you’re there to discuss. Consider how it will…
- Help you hone a skill that you wish to deepen.
- Offer you an opportunity to use your current skills in new ways.
- Allow you to work on a particular project or with a particular group of people.
- Enable you to work towards a shared mission.
- Offer you the chance to be a part of a specific industry.
- Help you achieve an identified goal, or similar.
Whatever most truthfully stands out to you should be the aspect that you weave into your in five years’ time response. You’ll often need to use the findings of your interview research to support this.
A simple formula:
- Identify your desire to work towards X within the next five years (whatever it is that you’ve identified from the above/your own thoughts along these lines). State this in a sentence or two.
- Explain how the role you’re interviewing for will allow you to achieve this; referencing something you’ve read in the job spec and/or identified in your wider company research.
- Where possible, back this up with some relevant evidence taken from your CV. Whether that’s discussing a project that has prompted your current goal, or the way you developed your skills in your most recent job.
Be prepared to go deeper into the ‘why’ behind your goal, if your interviewer wishes to know more about this. Most of all, keep it simple, positive, and (as ever!) demonstrate your enthusiasm.
For more interview FAQs, check out…
- What if I don’t know the answer? Helping you handle any mind-blank moments!
- What to research before an interview – your essential guide to getting ahead of the competition.
- How to answer the ‘tell me about yourself‘ question. Another open question that can have us all tripping over our words!
- And how to answer ‘your greatest weakness‘…without saying you’re a perfectionist!