Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In this article I will explain how you can prepare for the common interview question: where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
- Think forward five years …where do you see yourself?
- Perhaps you see yourself as a multimillionaire, on a beach with a yacht moored off shore or perhaps you see yourself in the same position as you are now, or in a new job.
However, the interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?’ can throw anyone, let alone candidates at a job interview, into a meltdown.
- Interviewers generally do not ask trick or weird questions to assess candidates; they really want you to succeed at the interview
- Interviewers want to gain an insight into your career goals
But, how should you as a job interview candidate, answer this question?
- You need to explain how you want to grow within the company.
- Whatever you say, the focus should indicate direction and commitment to your career path and the company you want to join.
Hiring managers questions are trying to assess your career objectives in order to decide whether your goals match with the companies.
So, how do you answer the interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?’
It’s helpful to prepare for this question reflecting on how you see your career going in the short to medium term.
- Review your career goals and how they relate to the job description, the company’s goals and mission
- Think about which of your current skills you would like to improve
- What new skills do you need to learn to achieve your career objective
- What are your current interests and how they fit current market conditions
- Define your career goals, articulate them, say them out loud and write them down
Revisit your career goals, how well they match the job description and the companies goals and mission
- Always refer back to the job description when you think about your answer. Look at the person specification / skills requirements for the job and match these skills with your current skills and experience.
- Will it be possible to improve your knowledge of the industry through on the job experience, or will you need formal education?
What new experiences would you like to have over the next 5 years?
How will the job you are interviewing for improve your CV, how will it help your next jobs?
- What is your dream job?
- What skills and at which level do you need do the job, will the company support you with training to gain those skills?
- Is this job in the same industry sector or on the same career pathway that you want to follow in the long term?
In your answer include some of these elements. For example, if the role you’re applying for follows your ideal career pathway, mention how it will provide you with the industry sector expertise and training to help you progress your career. Explain how you see your career path within the company and possible future internal moves. Show your interest in staying with the company long term.
Understand your current interests and consider how the market may change
- Most employers you work for, and jobs that you work in, should enhance your skills and encourage you to grow and learn more about the role and sector
- There may be specific areas that you want to focus on, and it may take a long time to become an expert in this area
- Think about how the role you are applying for can provide you with specific skills or knowledge to develop your career
- Read widely about the current market and try to understand how market trends are moving and what external factors are affecting the sector more generally, for example the impact of Brexit or Covid-19
Be clear about your career goal
- You may or may not have a dream job in mind, but it is a good idea to have some career goals to aim for
- Showing how integral a part the role and company that you are interviewing for could play in your overall plan demonstrates that you have long term goals and ambition. This will potentially help you to move internally within the company and to have a long-term future at that firm
What does an ideal answer sound like?
- Interviewers want to hear key pieces of evidence in your response that are authentic and clearly articulated easily understood
- Research the company and fully understand the role for which you applied
- Interviewers, want to know that you have researched the company, understand what they do, who their competitors are and the current market
- Make sure your answer relates to the job and the company
- Explain that you want to grow in the role; they want to hear that you have long-term plans to stay at the company
- Be realistic, they want someone with a true understanding of the role. Talking about taking a leadership role is more realistic than being the CEO
Explain clearly your career objective
- If you have been clear about your career goals in the earlier part of your answer then the interviewer should be able to see how well the opportunity matches with what you want to do going forward
Make sure you have questions prepared for the interviewer
- Interviews are a two-way street and you need to feel confident and comfortable that the company and the role are a good match for you. Be clear that you are genuinely interested in the company and the job on offer
- For example, what are the medium to long-term goals of the company? This will give you a better idea of the reality within the organisation and how well that matches your analysis and in turn if it is the right company for you
Does the company match with your goals?
- It may seem obvious, but employers want to know that your goals match with the job you are applying for. For example, if you are interviewing for a job as a HR officer and you are clear you want a career in marketing, they may not see you as a good fit or an asset to the company for the job for which you have applied. However, if you have applied for a marketing role, have a marketing degree and marketing background they can see how the role would fit with your career plan
Are you qualified for the job for which you have applied?
- Organisations need to decide if you have the essential skills to do the job. They will filter applicants at various stages of the recruitment process, using various criteria such as academic qualifications and previous work experience. For entry level and early career roles employers are generally looking for candidates with potential to learn and grow on the job
Tell them about your ambitions
- Companies generally want to hire people who have an awareness of how they want to progress and have a career plan, rather than drift from job to job
- Ambition is something that means something to you in a way that may be hard to define in words, but at an interview you need to be able to define it in a way that is easily understood by the interviewer
- You could relate it to a specific position you hope to attain or to increased knowledge and skills as a set of outcomes. Or it could be peer recognition in your profession, sitting on a committee of your professional body or increasing your profile by writing articles for trade publications and websites and speaking at conferences
How can we help?
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