Welcome to Q&A From the Trenches! Every week we take your questions on building a resume, interviewing, searching for jobs – ask us anything!
QUESTION: I hate the ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ interview question! What’s the best way to answer this?
It’s a good start to know what questions you’re dreading – that way, you can prepare! Preparation is key to a successful interview.
Hiring managers bring out this often-used (too often?) question to see if you have a career plan. They’re looking for smart and strategic thinkers – and they want to see if your goals align with their vision for the position’s responsibilities.
Anticipate this question with some planning. Where should your career trajectory lead in five years, should you land this position?
While your first reaction might be “sitting in YOUR chair,” we don’t recommend that answer. If it’s true that you aspire to be in your interviewer’s position eventually, communicate your ambition by using keywords from the job description for which you’re interviewing, with a little future vision.
For instance, if the job description mentions growing the company’s social media, try this:
“I see myself in five years managing a thriving social media machine, with thoroughly engaged fans and followers, ever-growing and evolving.”
What are your aspirations? Do you want to be a manager of a team? Do you want to be a leader? Tackle the five-year question with solid, manageable, and attainable goals aligned to the position for which you’re a candidate:
“In five years I’d like to be a team leader; someone the company can rely on to manage team members and see a project through from start to successful and profitable finish.”
You obviously want to succeed in your new position at the company, should you get it – but you’ve got to get it first. Ambition is healthy – but so is realism. Don’t get TOO out there, or you’ll scare away your job prospects! When you’re interviewing for a managerial position, saying you’d like to be CEO with a personal assistant and staff of 30 will make you seem like a dreamer. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming – but the workplace (and thereby, the interview), is not the time or place.
When you’re answering this dreaded question (and all others as well), don’t have a memorized script ready and come off as too-rehearsed. Assess the situation and try to feel out what the hiring manager is looking for. Do practice for the question, and have bullet points ready to adapt and align with your goals as well as the responsibilities of the position.
DO get excited about your interview, even if it does include the “where do you see yourself in five years” question. We hope to see you happy and successful, and on the way to your dream career!
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