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How do you answer 'Where do you see yourself in five years' in a job interview?


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November 03, 2011 4:00PM

Where do you see yourself:

Here's what the resume advice company Resume Edge recommends as a sample answer to the question, "Where do you see yourself in ten years?"

In ten years, I endeavor to have refined my strategic and client relations skills. I intend to be a leading expert in estate planning. After having proven myself as a senior manager, I hope to help shape the strategic direction of estate planning services. I could do this in any number of official roles. The important thing is that I will continue contributing my abilities in a challenging and rewarding environment.

More advice:

  • While it is not usually a good idea to try to be a Jim Carey in an interview, depending on how things have gone and who you are dealing with, you might inject a little humor here and ask: "When do you expect to be promoted?" ....or "When are you moving on?... This could easily break the ice. Seriously, you can easily respond that you have no idea as you have no idea what you are capable of so far, although you know it is a lot. Therefore, you want to make sure you are open and flexible to whatever opportunities present themselves. If you actually know what you want to be when you grow up, you could offer to conduct a seminar on how to actuate that.
  • You know when you come to that common situation where someone asks you "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Yea you should call a person on that because that question is silly! You have no idea where you'll be in five years nor should you worry. I mean how depressing can that question actually be? If someone asked me that question five years ago I wouldn't have predicted my life to be like this nor would I have wanted to say my life would be like this, I'm not saying I'm unhappy with my life necessarily its just that in a span of five years a persons likes and dislikes change, the people around them either disappear, reappear, or show up for the first time. The things you once loved could become something you hate or vice versa. Aspirations change and feelings lose their magic. Yes you can say what you'd like to see happen in five years but I'm pretty sure it won't and five years from now when you look back on yourself answering that question you'll probably no longer want the same things. There's always hope but no definite so all you can do is live life like you have those five years to look back on...
  • When an interviewer asks this question, they're asking where you see yourself within a company. They don't want to hear you say, "Well, in five years, I will be married to a handsome European man, touring the South Pacific in our yacht with a mai-tai in my hand." They want something like, "Well, that will depend on my individual performance and on the opportunities I'm presented with, but ideally, I will be..." Even if you're going, "Yeah, like I'll be here in 5 years..." act like you will be. They don't want to hear you saying you'll essentially use them to get where you want, and the minute the opportunity is presented jump ship.
  • Some might think that you should not tell the interviewer that you want to move up the ladder of success, because they will fear that you might replace them or move on to another job. However, most would recommend that you answer with just the opposite: that you do want to be successful. A good manager wants his employees to be successful and grow in their careers because that benefits the whole company. If they don't want this, you don't want to work for them. As for the actual standards of success and specific career paths, they are very different for different people and different industries. It is most important to show that you do want to be successful.
  • Think educationally-- higher degree? certification? Think leadership-- at least one step up from where you are at now.
  • Think about what your goals in life are. Then think about what you are doing now. The answer will be somewhere in between, for example "I want to be the CEO of Microsoft and right now I'm studying towards a degree in computering engineering." In five years time the person would probably be "working with a decent computer company in a high position, looking to move on to greater things".
  • Be ambitious but realistic. If you are applying for a job in the mail room in a large corporation, don't say you are gong to be CEO in 5 years; but try to find out before your interview where a mail room clerk might be promoted to.
  • This is a tricky interview question and definitely something worth thinking about before hand. You should come across as being flexible with strong ideas of several directions you are interested in developing. You should be positive, confident and ambitious but not overly so. Don't say "I want to be doing your job"

Where will you be in five years?

This is a very common job interview question. Think carefully about your plans. Really answer it for yourself, Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you hope to be?

The interviewer is looking to find out a few things with this question. First, are you the type of person who plans ahead and sets goals? You should be. Second, do your goals match those of the company and the position? Your goals need to fit the career path for the job. They don't want to lose you in a year or two.