The Answer to "Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years"

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

When a hiring manager asks you this, there may be a few things running through your brain. “Moving (way) up the ranks,” “running this place,” “working for myself,” or “in your job,” for example.

None of which are necessarily things you should say out loud in an interview.

So, how do you answer the question? Watch this quick video, where Muse CEO Kathryn Minshew shares a formula developed by our career expert Lily Zhang. It’ll help you share your goals and ambitions the right way—and not give your interviewer anything to worry about.

(Can’t watch the video at work? Don’t worry—we’ve also copied the transcript below.)

How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

So, how do you answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

This can feel like a bit of a trick question, because sometimes the answer is, “not in this job,” or, “in your job,” or something like, “at a bigger better opportunity elsewhere.” But none of those are things you actually want to say to a hiring manager.

The good news is you can be honest while still telling them what they really want to know. Do you have realistic expectations for your career? Are you ambitious? And does this particular position align with your growth and goals overall?

For example, one way I like to think about it is: Think about where this position could realistically take you, and think about how that aligns with some of your broader professional goals.

So, for example, you might say, “Well I’m really excited by this position at Midnight Consulting because in five years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the energy sector, and I know that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to do here. I’m also really excited to take on more managerial responsibilities in the next few years and potentially even take the lead on some projects. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing managers, and so developing into a great manager myself is something I’m really excited about.”

So, what if this position is not a one-way ticket to your professional aspirations? It’s okay to say you don’t really know what the future holds, but you see how this experience could really help in making that decision.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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