Question Proposed on LinkedIn: How to Answer the Question ’Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?’

Others’ Responses:

– Whatever you say must relate to the job and company. Even if you are on a career journey and see yourself doing something completely different – do you really want to share this at an interview?

– It is as important as anything that you remember your primary goal – to get this job. So when you start your answer, emphasise how you want to completely master the role you are currently going for and how you want to add value to this specific company. Also state which areas of this job you especially like and what you want to take with you even as you move upwards. For example you may be interviewing for a Marketing Executive role, and in 5 years want to be a Marketing Director. Tell the interviewer which bit of the Executive role you most enjoy and would like to still have a hand in even if you got promoted.

– Never mention the money. It may seem obvious, but I have genuinely interviewed people before who said in 5 years they wanted to be earning X amount. This is generally the wrong direction to take the interview in. Of course money is the reason we all go to work, but by answering in this manner you make yourself seem totally fixated on this. Admittedly there are some jobs – namely sales related ones – where hiring managers are actively looking for hungry people that want to maximize their earning potential. But even when I recruit for these positions I still want to see people aiming for professional development rather than just financial.

– I see this question as one with no correct answer. It is like when a woman asks her man “Do I look fat in this dress?” If one is ambitious and talks about moving up, but the company is a dead-end job kind of company, game over, rejected, no job, and the candidate continues starving. If one is not ambitious and likes their role (i.e. a developer who loves to code and hates management role) and the company wants ambitious people to join, game over, rejected, no job, and the candidate continues starving. “The first is that ambitious companies look for like-minded individuals” And does this show up in the job description as people are applying? Do the job ads say “We are looking for ambitious….” Not always. If the company has not communicated what they’re looking for, in terms of ambition, then the candidate is taking a stab in the dark. There is no correct answer and they’re at risk of losing the job.

– I personally go out to work to expend my skills and talents, to learn, to share knowledge – and to interact with people (I miss the company of people, presently). There’s a saying that most of the world’s untapped talent is lying in graveyards across the globe – I seriously don’t intend to take any skill I have to the graveyard unspent. Now, on the crux of your post, I’ve always answered the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ by saying ‘I aspire to be x, but am keen to give give 100% to this role for the years’ I’ll spend doing it, whilst keeping my long-term goals under constant review due to the changing jobs’ landscape. Alas, in my industry, jobs and responsibilities change so frequently that saying “I want to be a CIO in 5 years time”, without keeping an eye on the evolving role of IT leaders, means one might find the CIO role has been submerged into the Chief Data Officer or Chief Digital Officer role in 5 years time. I think both discipline and flexibility are key, when planning and stating one’s long-term career goals.

– With all due respect, I do not ask this question anymore. Sometime after the 911 attacks in New York, I asked this question of a candidate. I’ll never forget this interview. I was recruiting in Los Angeles at the time. I had two huge picture windows with a of the pacific ocean behind my desk. After asking this particular question the candidate took pause, looked me straight in the eyes and answered. “Honestly, I don’t know, because there’s a 747 headed for the window behind you right now.” He got up an left the room. Startled, I turned around to look behind me only to see the view of the ocean. I recieved an email from him later that day explaining that he lost a family member in the attack. It was his cousin, a family member who happened to be interviewing for a job in the Twin Towers on the morning of the attack. He wrote, I wonder if his recruiter was asking him the same question when the plane struck? From that point on, the question became empty and meaningless.

– I have always believed this to be a trick question. Many interviewers work off a list of generic questions, including this one, that force the prospective employee to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear. The reality of today’s market is that few people stay in one particular position for longer than three to five years, making it impossible to predict where they will be. Moreover, many small- to mid-sized companies have little in the way of advancement opportunities, so in order to get something better people must leave entirely. If If I’m good at what I do and if I enjoy it, I don’t mind staying in the same position for five years or more. That doesn’t mean I lack ambition; that makes me reliable.

– I am always curious about this question. Personally, my ambitions are not that high but I think they are a great asset to the company. The highest my ambitions go is to manage 2 or 3 engineers. But I want to get them at the entry level and develop them into great engineers after a year or two then get new ones and do the same thing. So I never expect to get that high in a company but I would be a great asset.

– One could easily say that this is just one of many questions that help determine what drives a person to be creative, innovative and motivated. If a company doesn’t ask where you see yourself in five years, does it mean: A) the company plans to fail in 4 years or less. B) they don’t offer any opportunity to grow beyond the role being offered? Turn the question around as the article suggests. What is their long term vision for the company? Regardless of what you read in the media, or in the comments section of LinkedIn articles, there are still many companies who look closely for long term fit when hiring.

– I consider this a rhetorical question…mainly because any interviewer should already have an idea of how ambitious a candidate wants to be. This should be a given…we all know what we WANT to be doing in five years but no one can predict the future. On the other hand, one has to be careful answering the question. If one answers they want someone else’s job within five years, they will be viewed as a threat…and no one in their right mind wants to hire someone with that much ambition. So, I came up with what I consider a pretty good answer because it shows my ambitious side yet soothes the mind of the interviewers that I’m not gunning for their jobs…my answer to the question is “to be in a position of greater responsibility.”

My Response:

– Show ambition. When you’re asked where you see yourself in 5 years’ time, don’t be afraid to aim high. If you see yourself in a managerial role, say it. No manager worth their salt will think you are a threat or getting too big for your boots. The key is to back it up – don’t just tell them where you want to be, tell them how you’ll get there.

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