Me 5 Years From Now Essay Writer
By Mike Simpson
So you want to know how to answer “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”…
Well to do that, we need to get back in our magical time machine and go to a time most of us remember fondly.
Do you remember as a kid playing with the Magic 8-Ball? It was always popular at sleepovers!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it…let us explain:
It was a goofy novelty toy; a giant pool ball filled with mysterious blue liquid.
You’d shake the ball, ask your question, and then flip it over…reading the answer on the bottom as it drifted up in ghostly white letters.
Regardless of the question you asked, you were only guaranteed one of twenty possible answers and odds were, if you weren’t happy with what you got…you’d shake the ball and ask again. And again. And again.
It was fun to pretend we had a window into the future by using the toy, but we all knew…it was just a toy and that there was no real way to predict the future.
So why do employers ask you to do just that?
Have you ever been in an interview and been asked the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Why do they ask this question? Do they think that at some point between putting down our 8-Balls and joining the real world that we’ve developed a bit of ESP?
Of course not!
As much fun as it would be to actually have these skills (can you say Lottery Winner?!?), no employer actually assumes you have those powers.
Their reason behind the question isn’t to test your precognitive abilities but rather to see how well your answer lines up with the company’s long term goals.
Now before you rush into a long winded explanation of where you think you’ll be and all the money you’ll be making at your new and fabulous job, let me stop you for a second and give you a serious word of warning.
THIS QUESTION IS A TRAP.
Unlike many of the other questions we’ve explored before including Traditional and Behavioral ones, a question like this is intended specifically to trip you up.
Why would an interviewer want to trip you up? Simple…
Because they want to get rid of you.
Wait…isn’t the purpose of an interview to hire someone? Why would they ask questions designed to get rid of applicants?
Yes, the ultimate goal of any good hiring manager is to find an employee to fill their vacancies, but they’re not looking for just anyone.
They want the Perfect Candidate and trick questions like this one are meant to weed out everyone but the best of the best.
How To Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years”
So how do you answer this question without falling into the trap?
By sidestepping it.
Rather than leaping directly over it and avoiding the question all together, we’ll show you how to work around it in such a way that you not only answer the question, but that you do it in such a way that your answer aligns with the company’s long term goals and values.
First off, let’s stop and look at the question itself.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Seems like an easy question, right?
Amazingly enough, this question is one that most job seekers get incorrect.
Because they’re answering it just like you’d answer it if you were shaking that Magic 8-Ball and peeking into the future…a future where you see yourself as driven and motivated.
Answering this question with a demonstration of your ambition (“I see myself as CEO of the company driving a sexy new sports car and bringing in unprecedented profits!”) might seem like the answer a hiring manager wants to see, but in actuality…it’s not.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t answer with “Well, I see myself in your seat doing your job.”
No. No. No. That answer isn’t funny. It’s not ambitious. It’s a red flag…and you’re waving it right in an interviewer’s face.
If you’re interested in getting more word-for-word sample answers to this interview question then Click Here To Download Our “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years Cheat Sheet”
Top Tips For Avoiding the Traps While Outlining Your Future Goals
The thing you have to keep in mind is…they’re interviewing you for a job right now.
Not a job in the future…so why would they want to hear you wanting to do any job but the one you’re going for right now?
Rather than demonstrating your ambition and drive for future jobs…a hiring manager wants to see you demonstrate your level of commitment to the job you’re interviewing for.
They want to know what your career goals are for the career you’re interviewing for right now.
HOWEVER, and this is a big however…
They do want an answer to the question. Yes, it’s all fine and dandy to show them that you are committed to the position, but they are still looking for an intelligent and well-balanced answer to the question.
So firmly plant your answer in the reality, which is, doing your best to do the job they are hiring for. But make sure you show that you are a candidate that is ambitious and sees a future within the company, but is also a realist about what the future may hold.
What are your career goals?
Ask yourself this question, and research the company to find out what a potential growth path might be for you. This should be the foundation for your answer.
So without further ado, here are the tips:
Keep the job in mind: Yes, you’ve already demonstrated your desire for the position based on the fact that you’ve applied and are now interviewing for…but this question is meant to dig deeper than that and find out just how much you really want the position. Many job require training and no employer wants to hire someone and invest time and money into them if they’re planning on leaving. They want someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about the position. The hiring manager is looking for a hire that is also a good investment.
Be specifically generic: Remember how your Magic 8-Ball gave you somewhat vague answers? You’d ask it a question and the answer you got sometimes was just fuzzy enough that it seemed to apply? Think of your answer to this question in the same sort of light. First off…you’re not psychic so don’t pretend to be. Make sure your answers are broad enough that they don’t make a hiring manager question your dedication to the position you are interviewing for. Keep your answers tailored to the position and realistic in scope.
MIKE'S TIP: "Generic" can be a particularly dangerous interview strategy when not used properly, so only use it for your answer to this interview question. Job interviews are all about specificity and real-life examples, and being generic won't cut it anywhere else. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, you still need to show that you are ambitious so do your best to outline a realistic growth strategy using the next few tips.
Be enthusiastic: Like we’ve said time and time again….a hiring manager wants someone who is enthusiastic…not just someone who is looking to collect a paycheck and move onto the next adventure. Be genuinely invested in the position you’re applying for and do your research ahead of time so when you do your 5 year projection, you know what you’re talking about and your answer is realistic and grounded.
Be Realistic: Instead of pushing your future self into a ridiculous position of power that probably won’t happen…look at the job you’re applying for and take into consideration just how you might grow and develop within it and how that might also relate to the company’s needs and long term goals. Study the department you are applying to, including its structure and the previous path others have taken to get to where they are. If you can’t find the information, this would be a good question to ask the interviewer during your interview.
Don’t be funny: When confronted with this question, the first thing you want to do is avoid a knee-jerk funny answer. Remember, they’re looking for reasons to get rid of you…and if your first answer is a funny but not serious one, you run the risk of waving that proverbial red flag we talked about earlier.
Don’t make up a position: As I just mentioned, you’ve hopefully already done your research on the company and know what sort of chain of advancement is available for the position you are applying for. Just throwing out a random title (“I want to be the senior manager of sales and acquisitions.”) might seem like a good idea…until you find out the job doesn’t actually exist. Oops.
Make your answer 2 parted: The first part of your answer should focus on the immediate position you are applying for and how you are excited by that opportunity. The second part of your answer deals with your future plans and expectations. By making it a 2 part answer, you’re reaffirming your desire for the job while at the same time answering the long term component in a logical and responsible way.
So how do I answer this question? Is there really a right way or am I just doomed from the start?
Just as there’s a wrong way to answer, there’s a right way as well…and we’ll walk you through three different scenarios so you can get a feel for how to approach this well laid trap.
Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years Example Answers
“Let me start by saying that I’m really excited about the position we are discussing and my number one goal is to do the best job I can at this role. Having said that, if down the line there’s an opportunity for advancement and I’ve proven that I have not only the skills and experience needed to take on this next level of responsibility, then of course I would be interested.”
Well played there! You’re showing that you’re dedicated to the position and that you are ambitious, but not ridiculously so. But why not take it one step further and outline what you plan to do if and when that advancement becomes available?
“I’m also really passionate about the work I do and would love if there were opportunities for me down the line to also be able to mentor other employees or new recruits to be successful within this position, perhaps as a manager or supervisor.”
Well, well well…future employee…nicely put! You’re showing with this second statement that you are grounded enough in reality that you’re aware astronomical leaps forward in careers don’t normally occur within 5 years, but ambitious enough to know that advancement does happen…and when it does, it leave vacancies that you’re willing to help fill by providing training for potential replacements down the road.
“From the moment I read the job description for this position I was really excited about your company’s role in the community, and for this reason, am thrilled at the possibility of working with you for a long time.I’m very passionate about outreach and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be heavily involved in this area.”
First off, good job complimenting the company! You’re showing that you’ve done your research and that you’re also looking for a position that allows growth.
“While my main focus moving forward will be on the position we are discussing today, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to grow within this position to take on more and be a part of new and exciting projects in the community.”
Again, nicely done. You’re letting the employer know that you’re dedicated to the job you’re applying for right now but that you’re also committed to the long term growth of the company…and your role within that growth.
“I’m glad you asked! One of the reasons that I applied to this company was because of your company’s reputation for helping with its employee’s career growth as well as providing advancement opportunities. Long term commitment from an employer is important to me because it creates a sense of belonging and really brings out my desire to “go to battle” for the company.”
Again, you’ve done a nice job complimenting the company culture as well as reaffirming your desire to be a long term employee. A hiring manager loves to hear that you are a solid investment.
“I’m really driven to achieve both mine and the company’s goals, and it is my belief that this stability will allow me to do so as I grow within this role.Five years down the road I see myself growing into a supervisor or manager where I’ll be able to use my skills to support and influence others.”
Again, you’re dedicating yourself to the position but at the same time, letting the hiring manager know that you’re also interested in growing and increasing your level of responsibility.
Putting It Together
There you have it…three solid examples of how to answer the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” as well as tips on how to avoid the dreaded hidden trap employers like to spring on unsuspecting job applicants.
Keep in mind that the interviewer wants to hear what you plan to do with the job you’re applying for right now and that your answer should reflect reasonable and realistic growth… More than anything, you want your answer to reassure the hiring manager that investing in you isn’t risky and that you’re the Perfect Candidate for the job.
So put your Magic 8-Ball down; put your Ouiji board back into the game closet and leave the Tarot Cards at home.
You don’t really need ESP to see a future with a company…you just need a few easy to remember tips and a healthy dose of reality.
And above all…
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FREE: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years PDF "Cheat Sheet"
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Let me introduce you to one of the most cringeworthy interview questions of all time.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Um. I don’t know. Getting takeout with my terrier? Oh, wait - let’s go with “biggest pop star since Britney Spears.” How does that sound?
Come on. You can’t see far enough into the future to know what’s for dinner tonight.
So, why would hiring managers expect you to tell them where you’ll be in five years. You don’t own a crystal ball.
Yes, it’s frustrating.
The good news? There’s a quick and easy way to sidestep the question and still talk about your long-term career goals.
This article will show you:
- What interviewers mean when they ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
- How to prepare examples of career goals for different interview situations.
- Examples of best answers for the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question.
And if you want to turn every interview into a job offer, get our free checklist: 42 Things You Need To Do Before, During, and After Your Big Interview. Make sure nothing will slip your mind!
Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years? What Are Interviewers Asking?
So, what are interviewers getting at when they ask about your 5 year career goal plan?
Interviewers ask about your future career goals and objectives for two reasons:
- They want to know if you’re going to stay put in the new position.
- They want to know if your long-term career goals align with the company.
Here’s what they don’t want to hear:
- Jokes about how you’ll be the one on the other side of the table in five years.
- Detailed schemes about getting promoted within the company.
- Pipe dreams about being famous, owning a business, or going back to school.
- A bunch of “Hmmmm.” And, “Ummmm.” Or, “I don’t know. That’s hard to say.”
So what are interviewers asking?
Well, when interviewers ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” They’re really asking, “What are your career goals within this position?”
They want to know that the position will satisfy you and that you'll work hard and stay with the company for a long time.
Remember, a hiring manager’s success doesn’t depend on how many empty chairs she can fill with warm bodies.
Her success depends on keeping talented employees happy and at work. If you leave, it’s going to cost her company time and money.
So, the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question is how interviewers ask if you’re going to stay in the job.
You’re excited about the position and what you’ll learn in the coming years. You’re eager to become the best at what you do and progress to the next level when appropriate.
In five years, I want to complete the internal training program for my position. I’ve read about it on your website, and I think it’s a fabulous program. Not only would I get all the training for my role, but I would be on the fast track to becoming a project manager. That’s my top career goal. Plus, my ideal path would include working abroad for a couple of years. I understand that it’s of value to you to find people prepared to do so.
Wrong: You’re excited about using the position to move your career forward as soon as possible. You want to be CEO of the company if five years. Nothing less.
My long-term career goal is to become CEO of the company. My mother always told me, “Never settle for less than your best.” So, I plan to claw my way to the top!
Regardless, you want to be careful when answering this question. Because it’s tricky.
Let’s say there’s no clear career path for your position, or you don’t know what you want to do in the long run.
You’ll want to remain vague but realistic.
That’s right - vague. The “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question is the ONLY question for which you’ll want to prepare a bland response.
It’s like when you’re on a date, and the guy asks if you’ll ever want kids or a wedding. He wants to know if you’re on the same page.
His ideal future might include Ikea furniture, dogs, and conversations about preschools. You just want to make it to Burning Man at some point.
So, here’s the thing. Let’s say you like the guy. You need to come up with an answer that will satisfy his concerns and show you’re cool with commitment - for now.
You’ll want to follow the same rules when discussing your future during a job interview.
Here are some variations of “where do you see yourself in 5 years:”
- Where do you want to be in 5 years?
- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
- What are your career goals?
- Describe your career goals.
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What are your short-term career goals?
- What are your goals for the next 5 years?
- What is your ideal job at the peak of your career?
- What are you looking for by applying for this job?
- How do you define success?
- What’s most important to you in your career?
- What specific steps will you take/are you taking to achieve your vision of yourself in the next 5 years?
Pro Tip: Let’s say the interviewer asks, “Where do you want to be in five years?” And your knee-jerk reaction is to blurt out, “Maui! Tan, retired, and drinking coconut cocktails that come with those tiny umbrellas.”
Depending on where you interview, the hiring manager may or may not find such a response amusing. Remember to gauge your audience.
Want to see how to answer the most common interview questions? Read our guide: “Most Common Job Interview Questions and Best Answers (+20 Examples)”
How to Prepare for the “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years” Interview Question
Start by asking yourself:
“What are my career goals?”
Are they related to the open position? No? That’s okay. Write down a few sample career goals and aspirations. Set them aside.
Now, write down a few long-term career goals and aspirations that could flow from the position. They may not match your 5 year career goal plan, but that’s okay.
Next, you’re going to need to do some research on the company and the open position.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Career Paths for the Position
- Training and Development Opportunities
- Shared Values
- Interesting Projects
Let’s use Procter and Gamble as an example.
P&G is your typical big corporation. As such, they have a dedicated career website that allows you to check out career paths.
Let’s say your dream job is to work in Sales at P&G. You do want to stay there for a long time.
The company boasts that they have “one of the world’s best sales training programs.”
So, you read more about the way P&G trains employees.
You find out that P&G personalizes training for each employee.
They also provide mentoring and networking opportunities.
Plus, you notice that the training equals real projects and assignments at an early stage. Make a list of all the things you find attractive.
- Personalized Training
- Real Projects and Assignments
When you notice such a wealth of information, stick with what you find. Refer to one of the things you admire in your “where do you see yourself in 5 years” answer.
Now, sales qualifies as a job that might not lead to a higher position. That’s true for a lot of professionals. Other examples include teachers and therapists.
These are jobs where you work with clients and get better at what you do. In that case, your long-term career goal examples should detail improvement in your role.
Use the information provided by the company.
One of the reasons I want to work for P&G is because I find your personalized approach to training attractive. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with a mentor and immerse myself in learning new skills. I’m also the type of employee that likes to hit the ground running and jump into projects as soon as possible. So, over the next five years, I see myself taking on as many complex assignments as the position would allow.By the end of that period, I want to say that I’ve built lasting client relationships. I want to say that I’m one of the best Salespeople on the team. I wouldn’t mind becoming someone who could train and mentor others when the time comes as well.
Without doing research, you describe a specific career path that isn’t available.
I see myself becoming an established Sales Associate within a few months. I’m a fast learner and don’t need much training. After that, I would look at becoming a manager. At the end of five years, I want to be the Sales Team Leader or Managing Director.
Let’s say your research doesn’t turn up much. You can’t find any decent information about the company’s career paths. And you’re not sure what sort of opportunities you’ll have to grow inside the business.
Do any of the personal career goals you listed align with the position?
Let’s say they don’t. Let’s say you know this job is a stepping stone. Or maybe you just need something to make ends meet until you finish grad school.
- Is there any training I could do outside of work that would be relevant to the position?
- Is there any classes I could take that would enhance my skill set?
- Could I learn any new, handy skills from this job?
- Does the company do any projects that interest me?
- Does the company have some long-term goals that align with mine?
Be sure to keep your answer for the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question brief and general.
Talk about how you want to develop yourself as a professional in the context of the position.
For example, you want to learn an extra, relevant skill that will compliment your role. Or you’re interested in taking some general leadership or writing classes.
You can always mention that you want to develop your skill set.
At the same time, avoid implying that you’re preparing for something bigger and better in the future.
Discuss long-term goals related to the company and the position.
As a marketing professional, I want to develop my skill set. At the end of the next five years, I want to know how to use software like Photoshop or InDesign. I want to have a better understanding of social media and video marketing. Plus I’d like to get into project management. I would like to learn on the job. Regardless, I want to look into online or evening courses. My hope is that I can apply my new skills to my job with you.
Discuss long-term goals that have you moving on to bigger and better opportunities.
In five years, I hope to have moved on to a much larger company where I can apply the skills I’ve learned here. I need six years of experience and a developed skill set. I want to use this position as a stepping stone to prepare for a career with the big boys.
One more thing to keep in mind is that you may be the type of job seeker that raises red flags. For example, you’ve only spent six months at your last three jobs, or you have gaps in your career progress.
It’s more likely that you’ll get the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question or a variation of it.
Pro Tip: Some interviewers will even go for the 10 year career goal plan. So, make sure your answers are general enough to accommodate a longer period if necessary.
Examples of Best Answers for “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years”
Situation One - No Information on the Company
The company doesn’t have a clear path forward for employees in my position.
Here’s how to answer the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question when you don’t know much about the company.
Stick to a response that focuses on how you want to develop a relevant skill set.
As a Chef, I want to develop my skill set. At the end of the next five years, I want to know how to prepare and present dishes for a 5-star restaurant like yours. I also want to finish some specialized managerial training if possible. To achieve this, I’ve decided to do some workshops and online training in my free time. My hope is that my new skills would help me say that I am the best at my job here at Le Bone A Petit.
Talk about side projects that might result in you moving to your dream job.
In the next five years, I want to finish my side project. My hobby is developing games for apps. I have one in the works now that I should have done in the next year or two. That’s my real passion.
Situation Two - You’re Using the Position as a Stepping Stone
Let’s say you do know something about the company’s career paths. But you’re using the position as a stepping stone or a temporary fix.
Perhaps you just need something to get you through grad school.
So, the best answer for “where do you see yourself in 5 years” should include pledges of long-term commitment.
But wait, that sounds like a lie. Now, you should never lie during an interview.
See, the goal is to find something that you can get behind even if you do end up quitting within the next five years.
Imagine that you would stay in the position for five years. Tailor your answer to reflect what you’d do if that were the case.
I saw that you have an employee training program for young accountants. I would love to complete such a program within my first or second year working with you. Plus, one of my professional career goals is to work on a project for a non-profit. So, I would hope that at the end of five years, I would have at least a couple of such projects under my belt.
Well, I was laid off from my last job as an Admin Assistant, so I’ve decided to try out the corporate world. I’ve always been more attracted to startup culture. But when I saw the offer for a position at a Fortune 500 company, I thought why not? Worst case scenario I can always cross working for a corpo off my bucket list.
Situation Three - You’re in the Middle of a Switching Your Career
Let’s say you’re in the middle of switching your career. You don’t know where you’ll be in 5 years because you’re right in the middle of trying to figure that out.
The one advantage you have is that you know that you want to do the job you’re interviewing for right now. So, in your “where do you see yourself in 5 years” answer, you might mention you want to be fully situated in your new career.
I’m applying for a marketing position because I want to put myself on a more creative career path. I have a background in law, so I know that I would be most effective in a law firm. I can apply my legal knowledge to inform my work. That should give me an edge that I wouldn’t have if I started over in a different industry. At the same time, I still need to transition. So, over the next five years, I want to develop my creative skill set in this entry-level position. So, my long-term goal is to become a skillful marketing professional within your company.
My biggest dream is to have opened my restaurant by that time. I’m also still trying to pass the bar exam, which I hope to pass within the next year. We’ll see. That’s why I think that taking a marketing position in a law firm is a good career goal right now. I want law to be my safety job. Just in case nothing else I want to do works out.
In five years? Well, I don’t know. I’m not the forward thinking type. I prefer to be in the moment, and that’s why I’m switching careers and trying new things. I will be 30 in five years. I could be a different person. To be honest, I have no idea where I will be in five years. I just hope that wherever I am, it’s warm!
My five year plan is to be CFO of a major corporation. And with the giant salary I will be given for my services, I will buy a summer home in South Carolina. After which, I will buy whatever the latest model of Mercedes-Benz is at the time. And if you think that’s impressive, you should ask about the ten-year plan.
Pro Tip: Let’s say you’re close to retirement. The “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question may seem like an ageist tripwire. And no, it’s not a fair question.
So if you plan to retire in five years, give a response that focusses on how you’ll develop your skill set within the position.
You’ve aced your interview. Now, what? Time to send a thank you email to your interviewer. Here’s how: “How to Write a Thank You Email After an Interview (+10 Examples)”
Bonus: Download FREE step-by-step checklist of things to do before an interview. “Things You Need To Do Before Your Big Interview.”
No, interviewers don’t expect you to know exactly where you will be in the next 5 or 10 years. What they do expect is that you’re taking the position you’re applying for seriously.
They expect you to stick around for awhile and do good work. So, what interviewers really want to hear when they ask “where do you see yourself in 5 years” is - HERE.
Still not sure how to answer the "where do you see yourself in 5 years" question? We can help! Leave us a comment, and we will help you select a few safe career plans before the big day.