How to Answer the Interview Question "Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?"

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"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

When you’re just starting out in a new career, this common interview question can be difficult to navigate. Not only can your career path can take many detours over the course of a few years, it can be challenging to commit to a clear direction without firsthand experience to reflect on. With little to no relevant work experience shaping your perspective or awareness of what you are (or aren’t) looking for in a career long-term, it’s not unusual to be confused about the direction you ultimately want to take one year from now, let alone five. However, being able to effectively communicate your career goals to a potential employer is essential to your success as a candidate.

Whether you have established an ideal five year plan or not, it’s important to be prepared to handle this standard question that you will inevitably encounter at some point as a job seeker. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will not only provide the insight you need to communicate your long-term goals, but help you determine if the opportunity at hand will actually propel you toward them.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Whether in school, internships, work life or personal life, take the time to reflect on what you have accomplished so far that has inspired you to continue on the path you’re seeking and how that experience or skill set can be transferred to the available position.

What do you admire about the role or company that has nothing to do with salary or benefits?

Expressing your motives outside of the monetary benefits will showcase your genuine interest, enthusiasm, and long-term commitment to the company. In many cases, excitement about the opportunity at hand paired with a willingness to learn and develop professionally can override years of experience in a similar role with a less enthusiastic candidate.

How does your answer relate to the specific role you’re interviewing for?

Ambition is an admirable attribute that is important to relay to the hiring manager, but wherever you envision yourself five years from now, consider how it translates to the opportunity currently at hand.  

What do you hope to learn or gain?

Whether you’re interviewing for an entry-level position or making a career change that will act as a stepping stone to where you want to be in five years, express how it can be a mutually beneficial opportunity by discussing how it will help you develop the skills you hope to acquire while simultaneously utilizing those that you have already mastered.


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