The Candidate Super Series: How to Answer: “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years”

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Ryan Kaye

- October 31st, 2022
Candidate Hub

Welcome to Part Eight of the Candidate Super Series. Unsure of how to answer the interview question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our interview coaching services next.

where do you see yourself in 5 years

In an interview, you’re likely to hear the question, “where do you see yourself in five years?” at least once. Usually, hiring managers ask this question to try and understand a candidate’s ambitions and how these ambitions match the job they’re applying for.

Granted, you probably don’t know where you’ll be in the next few years. However, be prepared to answer this question, as it’ll help set you up for success and facilitate a beneficial – if not brilliant – interview.

Below, we’ll talk about why hiring managers ask, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” We’ll also look at a few points you need to bear in mind when responding to this question, and a few examples to use when planning how to answer this in your next interview.

Why do hiring managers ask, “where do you want to be in 5 years?”

An employer generally asks about your work-related ambitions for the next few years to gain an insight into the following:

Whether you’ll want to stay with the firm for the next five years

The amount of time you’ll spend in a specific role depends on the position you’re applying for. According to the latest stats, the average Brit changes jobs once every five years. The more time you remain in a role, the less a company spends on turnover-related costs, meaning the less turnover overall. With this in mind, a company probably won’t onboard you if you state you can’t see yourself in this role for very long. Essentially, the answer you give reveals what the employer needs to know before they hire you.

Whether your ambitions are in line with those of the company

where do you see yourself in 5 years

Chances are you have a couple of ambitions in mind when it comes to how you’ll develop within the role you’re applying for.

If you’re applying for an entry-level finance role but want to progress into a management role over the coming five years, you’ll want to know whether there’s any scope to move into a higher position at that specific firm.

What’s more, if you begin in a particular role but intend to transfer to an entirely new role in a different sector or department, you’ll be eager to find out if this is possible within the company.

These things will help interviewers ascertain whether you’re the right candidate for the firm going forward. What the hiring manager tells you based on these things will ultimately enable you to decide whether the firm matches your work-related objectives.

How to respond to: “where do you see yourself after 5 years?” in an interview

Before the interview day, we recommend writing down your answers to interview questions like, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. In doing so, you’re thinking about calculated, well-planned answers ahead of time, so you can successfully communicate what you want to say to the interviewer.

Consider the below points when preparing to answer the interview question:

1. Determine links between your aspirations and the role description

Study the job description thoroughly so you can match your aspirations with the position you’re applying for. Doing so will help you unearth skills and qualities you already have together with those you need more experience in. In turn, you’ll be able to connect your objectives to the job you’re applying for in the interview.

2. Know what your career ambitions are

Be crystal clear about what you want in your career. Pause to brainstorm what your ambitions are for the coming five years. Consider whether you want to:

  • Learn new skills.
  • Work in a particular industry.
  • Transfer to a more senior role.
  • Be involved with specific projects.

It’s also worth considering what you’d like to see on your CV to make it stand out even more in the next five years. For example, would you like to obtain a particular job title or acquire specialist certificates? Note down these goals.

3. Whether the firm can help you in your career aspirations quest

Be clear about whether the company you’re applying to is willing to help you in your career aspirations over the coming few years. If the answer is no, it may be worth rethinking the job role or being honest with the hiring manager that you don’t see yourself staying with the firm for five years.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years” sample answers

Below, we’ve pulled together a few “where do you see yourself in 5 years” examples:

Example answer #1

“In five years, my ambition is to become accomplished in my role and progress into a senior position in my department. I was attracted to the tailored training approach your firm highlights on its website, and I have confidence that this training method will enable me to acquire the talents needed to progress within my role. In five years, I see myself handling exciting and new finance projects at the organisation to prepare me for a senior position with the company.” 

Example answer #2: 

“At the moment, I aspire to find a role at an organisation in which I can develop and take on new challenges in time. Eventually, I’d like to take on more senior duties and become involved in finance strategy. However, more importantly, I want to work for a company where I can build a career.” 

Example answer #3: 

“A couple of the aspirations I’ve set for myself over the next few years include acquiring new project management abilities and managing the end to end CAD processes within my role. I’m thrilled about the prospects this position would give me, as I’m confident they will strengthen my long-standing professional objectives and enable me to progress within your company and give back by exploiting the abilities I’ll achieve.’

Example answer #4:

“My main aspiration for the next five years is to acquire three certificates associated with my role. When looking at your website before my interview, I spotted that you provide your staff with educational development opportunities that incorporate working at qualifications to enhance their occupations. Your company’s resources will help me chase my professional ambitions and, ultimately, allow me to transfer into a more senior role within your company over the coming five years.”