(How to Answer) Where do you see yourself in five years time?

How to answer the interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Ok so this is a really common interview question and you should always have a pre-prepared answer for this so you can answer fast and decisively. Let’s start by taking a look at why interviewers ask this question, what are they looking for?

Why is this question asked?

The interviewer is searching for a couple of things here. First of all they are checking to see if you have you thought about your future. This question determines how ambitious you are and if you have aspirations to move into higher level roles…but be careful this could be a trap! Keep reading and you will find out why.


This is a trap because this question helps the interviewer to identify if this job is just a stop gap position for you. Remember they are looking for the perfect candidate, and they want to know if you are going to stay with them in the long term or if you are likely to leave them prematurely.

No company wants to invest time, money and resources, training up a member of staff only for them to leave too soon. According to Hubspot, the average business will lose around 1% – 2.5% of their total revenue on the time and effort it takes to train a new hire. So longevity is a big deal! To answer this you need to outline a realistic career path while reassuring the interviewer you are in it for the long haul.

“Warning! Do not tell the interviewer you will be doing their job in 5 years time!” Cringe.

 Your ambitions need to align with the company and the type of role you are applying for. Don’t fall into the trap of aiming too high with your ambitions at this stage. You don’t want the hiring manager to think you are unrealistic, and therefore assume you will leave the company quickly if you do not achieve fast promotions.  Think to yourself, do my expectations align with what the employer can provide?

For lower and mid level positions you should focus on a natural career progression over 5 years.  Be ambitious, but also be realistic. It is vital that you explain and justify to the hiring manager how you aim to get to your desired point. This could be anything from CPD progression, taking on additional responsibilities, and exceeding targets in order to justify a promotion. Think to yourself, what qualifications or experiences to you need to achieve to arrive at your desired position?

For high level management positions you need to focus on corporate strategy. You will be expected to fit your career goals around the organisations corporate objectives.

To conclude, to successfully navigate this extremely common question, you need to do the following:

  1. Do your homework. Find out the companies objectives before the interview.
  2. Prepare an answer before hand, don’t wing it.
  3. Ask industry professionals what qualifications are needed to achieve your career goal.
  4. Ask industry professionals what a realistic career path would look like.
  5. Be honest, realistic and enthusiastic

Now you are armed with the information needed to woo your interviewer, when they ask “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”. Go forth and reassure them you are there for the long run, and will do what it takes to get there.

To start your job search, visit our Manchester Job Board.

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