A lot can happen in 5 years, and you’re probably not a psychic, so why exactly is your interviewer asking you this? When this question is asked, your interviewer is primarily concerned about how this position fits into your overall career goals and if these goals work well with the company’s goals. This helps them understand whether or not you’ll be a good fit, and how long you plan on working there. While it’s crucial, to be honest about where you would like to be in 5 years, you should still tailor your answer to relate it to the job you’re applying for. Even though this can be a tough question to answer, this article will give you some insight on how to answer this question effectively!
It’s imperative to be honest with your interviewer, but you should also be honest with yourself. Keep in mind, you don’t have to disclose everything about your future plans during your interview. You might not know exactly where you want to be in the next 5 years, but you probably have smaller goals. Think about what kind of job this is. Are you applying to a company where you could potentially have a career there, or is this a summer job? Maybe you are still in school, so this is a part-time job or an internship. First, think about the near future and how this job could help you get to the next step in your career path. Thinking about your personal goals will not only help you prepare to answer this question, but also help you to understand if this job is going to be something positive to help you advance to the next step in your career.
So now you are sitting down, face to face with your interviewer. You are confident in your goals, so what do you say? Often times, it’s important to be specific when answering a question on an interview, but in this case, it’s better to give a more general answer. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First, you might not necessarily know what the career path of the company is like. It’s also important to focus your answer on the company and the specific job position. Show the interviewer how working here will help you reach your goals. So, while you want to be honest, you should also give a general enough answer so that your interviewer won’t see any red flags with you.
For example, “I thrive in environments where there is a lot of collaboration, so I want to have a career where I will have mentors to guide me so that I can develop my skills better to hopefully become a manager one day”.
This is especially important if you are applying to work at a firm or more prominent company. However, either way, regardless of where you want to work, you are a significant investment. They will be dedicating a lot of time and money to training someone. So, the interviewer wants to know that you are prepared to and want to work there. Even if this is just a summer job, you want to show that you will add value to their establishment and will work there as long as you can. When you get to this part of your answer, relate it to what you previously said. Show them that your goals align with this job and the values of the place you want to work for.
For example, “I really admire that your company because I can see that it is a really friendly environment with a lot of collaboration between colleagues. I think that I would learn a lot, and then, later on, I can help train new employees”.
Your interviewer wants to see that you are enthusiastic, and look forward to the potential of working at this job. Show them that this job is a significant next step towards your career goals.
For example, “I see a lot of potential in this position, and I think that this kind of workplace would really help me work towards my goal of being a manager”.
Most importantly, don’t overanalyze it. You don’t have to have your life planned out and give a detailed explanation of it. You just need to have some general career goals. Make sure that they can be related to the job and/or company. Another thing to keep in mind is not to sound flaky.
For example, don’t say, “I really want to work in the restaurant industry because I hope to open up my own restaurant one day, but I also really like cooking, so I might want to become a chef.” Even though working in a restaurant would be a great environment to see if you want to either own your own business or become a chef, it still shows that you are uncertain. Your interviewer wants to know that you are serious about your career goals, and therefore that you are confident that this job will help you reach these goals.
Spend time thinking about this question and how you want to answer this, but don’t memorize a script. This will help you sound genuine, transparent, and confident. It’s always great to practice but depending on what job you are applying to, your answer will change a bit.