Essay Where Do You See Yourself 5 Years From Now How Do You See Yourself

Posted on by Tom

Interviewer: Where you do you see yourself in 5 years?

Me: Well, I am going to tell you that I see myself at your company at a role where I contribute to the organization’s success… and you will not believe that I am genuine but then I will say that anyway because this is the only answer I know you are looking for…

Such a ridiculous question to ask. But, it’s one of the most common ones. In this guide, I will show you exactly how to respond to, and genuinely impress your interviewer, when talking about where you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, or so on.

Trust me, if you stay until the end of this article, you will have significantly increased your chances of not only giving the perfect answer but also increased your chances to get that job.

First things first, let me introduce myself. I am Deniz Sasal. I am a manager with PwC Consulting in our strategy consulting business unit. I am also the creator of The Career Mastery and the now famous LIG program.

I launched The Career Mastery blog as a side project in 2016 because I wanted to help unemployed and underemployed find better jobs with large multinational employers and management consultancies.

See, I’ve joined a lot of interviews as a hiring manager. And one thing I noticed very clearly is that today’s job applicants – you – are extremely misled. There is so much complete nonsense advice out there given by completely unqualified non-achievers who have the audacity to teach you. And as a result, a lot of candidates end up wasting so much valuable time and settling for sub-par employers. I blame HR for this not just the ones currently working but also the ones with their online blogs. But that’s another day’s topic…

Long story short, if you stick with me until the end of this article, I will provide you with the best advice, sample answers, and insider tips to increase your chances of passing that interview.

Alright. Before we learn what to do, I just have this overwhelming urge to share with you 1 no-no.

  • Don’t try to be funny with the interviewer. I remember at least 4 candidates who said they saw themselves in my position in 5 years. Where are they learning this from? Who’s that guy teaching them it’s okay to say something that's just awkward and obnoxious?

Now that we’ve gotten this what-not-to-do out of the way, I’ll share with you some of the best answers to this interview question. We’ll start with a conventional approach then progressively move towards riskier but more rewarding answers…

So, Deniz…where you do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Let me first share with you the boring yet conventional approach. This answer will only let you “tick” the box and move on to next questions. You will not gain any “points” out of this. So, If I wanted to be conventional and safe, I’d answer this way:

Or I could spin it some more and respond with:

 

As you can see, these are perfectly fine — and if I may say, boring — answers. You can try these and the interviewer will smile but probably not remember you later from Adam. Everybody uses this safe approach because it ticks all the boxes.

Yes these above sample answers may check all the boxes and prevent you from taking any risks, but at the end of the day, it’s just BS…all fluff not meant to show who you are.

So, now let me share with you a more exciting answer.

The way I see, crafting this conventional response needs to show the following:

  • That you are committed and are not a 2-year jumper (which most of us suffer from)
  • That you are looking at the company not as a quick solution to unemployment but rather as the last and main destination of your career (Remember, from a hiring manager’s perspective, finding the right member consumes too many valuable resources...time being the most important one. So, show your loyalty and commitment to the organization.)
  • Being ambitious and assertive are characteristics that are in high-demand for certain roles, especially sales-related ones. So, feel free to clearly state positive traits associated with the job you're targeting and how you're looking to learn from the best and, when ready, take on more responsibilities.

 

Then, how to do it? How to impress the hiring manager?

How to get an edge with your answer to where do you see yourself in 5 years?

First think about this; if you are interviewing with the hiring manager, you need to recognize the fact that you will be working with that person for quite a long time. Do you really want to start that relationship with lies? Don't you think he is smart enough to figure out that you are just BS'ing your way through the answer?

When I interviewed for PwC Consulting 4 years ago, I didn’t. I didn't want to start that relationship based on a lie. So, here is how my answer went;

Hmm. Let me gather my thoughts for a second…[Yes, I literally took my time to think. You should try it too…just don't stretch it to an awkward silence.]Judging by the fact that where I saw myself in the past is never where I ended up, it’s really hard to say where I will be 5 years from now. If you asked me this question 10 years ago, when I was working at Standard & Poor’s as an analyst, I’d tell you I wanted to be an investment banker and make a million dollar bonus. Then 5 years later, I was a project management consultant, then sustainability consultant...and now here I am interviewing for a management consulting role which I can confidently do very well.

So you see, where I wanted to be almost never happened, and it’s really hard to say now where I will be in 5 years.

But I guarantee you this. I will do my best in this role and have a wonderful career at PwC with your team and with your leadership. And when the time comes, I will assume more leadership roles, hopefully easing some of your intense work load.

When I gave this answer, something incredible happened...

The partner was definitely shocked, and I could tell he wasn’t expecting my answer.

But…

He was also incredibly impressed. I could see it in his eyes. His mood instantly changed.

After my answer, he started to pat me in the back, saying “Son, it’s okay. It’s very normal going through things like this at your age, we don’t always get to have the career we want. But, don’t worry, things will be a lot clearer for you moving forward with us of course if you choose to work with us.”

And I was like; did you just say "choose to work with us?" Did you really just say that??? Nooo!! You didn't... 

He was completely engaged for the rest of the interview, conversing with me, giving details about the way they work, and telling me that he’d love to have a talent like me in the team.

Then, he asked how soon I can join…

I couldn’t ask for a better interview, for sure!

Imagine, my interviewer was a Senior Partner at PwC Consulting... a position that only few partners have. And my answer impressed him!

So, what happened?

It wasn't because I showed my uncertainty of what I wanted to accomplish...

What worked was very simple. After so many years in his career, he finally heard a true answer to his question.

I was probably one of the few who opted not to give a BS answer and to show a less than perfect version of myself. But what he saw was someone who will never give excuses or lie or BS (I just realized I used "BS" way way too many times in this article) his way out, no matter how stressful the situation may get.

Finally, I have one more tip for you that will significantly increase your chances to impress the hiring manager. 

Once you pull off a speech like above - assuming it fits your situation, you can then take out a 1 page slide (like the one below), and show him your career progression. Show him that when you worked for the employer A, you learned a lot about "investment banking" which really got you excited about a career in that field, but then later in your career with Employer B, you had a change of heart and you found yourself into "project management". Basically, use a visual aid to amplify your story. This will not only help you deliver a better answer, but also will show your interviewer that you are prepared and determined to get this job. Trust me, the hiring manager will be incredibly impressed the moment you take out that slide. The rest of your interview will go so much better just because of this 1 little page... It's that good of a tactic.

If you'd like to download these PowerPoint templates, please register here to access download page

 

So, next time a hiring manager asks you where you see yourself in 5 years, try to do the same thing. Aim to give an honest and genuine answer without selling yourself short or going overboard.

Finally, I strongly suggest you take a look at our LIG program. It's developed to completely transform your career. It works!

 

 

Best,

Deniz Sasal

I am really determined to achieve my and company’s goals. I’d like to deliver to the best of my abilities while learning from the best. Having said that, I see myself 5 years down the road growing into a managerial role and demonstrating my leadership capabilities.

I am really looking forward to spending the next five years in an organization where I feel I share all of its values, especially when it comes to [some values]. I would love to have the opportunity to demonstrate my leadership capabilities when the time is right, hopefully within 5 years and contribute to its growing success.

HOW TO ANSWER: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

How to InterviewInterview Questions & Answers

Posted by Pamela Skillings

Where do you see yourself in five years? This interview question is not designed to test your psychic powers.

No interviewer expects candidates to be able to describe EXACTLY what they will be doing in 1,820 days. In fact, a truthful answer about what you HOPE to be doing can easily sabotage your odds of landing a job offer.

So why do interviewers insist on asking this question?

Why Interviewers Ask, “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”

The interviewer wants to understand more about your career goals and how this position would fit into your grand plan. They care about your career goals because they want to hire someone who is motivated, proactive, and likely to stick around and work hard if hired.

If succeeding in this role is important to you as part of your long-term career strategy, you are much more likely to perform well.

You may also hear one of these similar/related questions that are not quite as cliched as the old “5 years” chestnut:

  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What is your ideal job at this stage in your career?
  • What are you looking for?
  • How do you define success?
  • What’s most important to you in you career?

How to Answer The Question

In today’s competitive job market, interviewers are looking for any red flag to use as an excuse not to hire someone. So you could be unfairly eliminated from contention if you answer this question in a way that even hints this is not the one and only job of your dreams.

Understandably, an employer wants to hire someone who is truly excited about the job at hand, someone who sees it as a great career move and will work tirelessly to do a good job.

You may have already said that you’re interested in the job and why. But they are testing you further by asking, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

If your five-year goal is to become an investment banker, it’s going to be hard for them to believe that this position as an IT marketing manager is your dream job.

Hiring managers don’t generally enjoy recruiting, hiring, and training new people. It can be a time-consuming and difficult process. Your interviewer does not want to invest time and effort in someone who is already planning to leave for something better as soon as it comes along (whether that’s a job that’s a better fit, grad school, or your own business).

After all, if she hires you and you quit after a month or two, she’s going to look really bad to her bosses.

In reality, you are probably considering a few different potential career paths. It’s smart for you to keep your options open to a certain extent. However, you don’t have to advertise this fact in your job interviews.

Let’s be clear: You should never lie during a job interview. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% candid about all of the directions that you are investigating.

Inside Big Interview, our complete training system for job interviews, we give you video lessons, sample answers, and an interactive practice tool for all of these different versions of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Watch this brief video to learn a little more about Big Interview, and click here to take a quick look at the program.

So what should you say?

1. Keep your answer fairly general, especially if you don’t know a lot about the typical career path at the company. For most interview questions, I recommend being SPECIFIC because general answers tend to be bland and easily forgettable. This is the exception. Make your answer truthful, but broad enough that it doesn’t raise doubts about whether you would be a good fit for this position at this organization.

2. Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company (especially if you have short job tenures on your resume). Your interviewer wants to know that you’re ready to settle in and grow with the firm. The truth is that anything can happen. The company could go out of business, they could lay you off, or you could be lured away for a better opportunity.

However, remember that the organization is going to be investing considerable time, energy, and money in hiring and training someone for this job. You must at least show an honest intention to stay long enough to be a good investment. If you have some “job hopping” on your resume, it’s particularly important to make the case that you’re now ready for a long-term role.

3. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job as an exciting next step for you. Most importantly, make it clear that you are motivated to take on this opportunity right now.

Example Answer to “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”

Why We Like It:
The emphasis is on growing with the company (he’s a good long-term hire) and taking on new challenges (he’s goal-oriented, proactive), not on a specific title or job description (he’s flexible).

More Example Responses

1. “My goal right now is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges over time. Ultimately, I’d like to assume more management responsibilities and get involved in product strategy. But most importantly, I want to work for an organization where I can build a career.”

Why We Like It:
This answer offers some insight into the candidate’s goals and interests (becoming a manager, being involved in product strategy) so it’s not too generic. This response also strongly expresses a desire for a long-term career with the company.

2. “I am driven to be the best at what I do and I want to work somewhere where I’ll have opportunities to develop my skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people I can really learn from. Some of the most innovative thinkers in the industry work here and that’s a big reason why I would love to build a career here.”

Why We Like It:
With this answer, the candidate is emphasizing her focus on learning, performance, and achievement. She is also complimenting the company and its reputation for hiring quality people (including the interviewer, perhaps?). The reference to “building a career here” indicates an interest in sticking around and contributing.

Special Scenarios: Make Your Narrative Believable

In some situations, your answer to this question will be particularly important. If you’re making a career change or this position doesn’t seem like an obvious next step based on your resume, your interviewer may be suspicious about whether you REALLY are committed to this field or just need to make a few bucks until something better comes along.

Nobody wants to hire an applicant who is halfhearted about the job. It’s like dating someone who is using you for free dinners until someone she’s REALLY attracted to comes along.

Your response to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is your opportunity to sell the interview on your commitment to the career path and the position.

For example, let’s say you were recently laid off after working in academia for five years and are now interviewing for a job in biotechnology management. To be seriously considered, you need to be able to describe why you are excited about making the switch and building a career in biotech. You don’t want to leave the impression that this would only be a temporary diversion until something opens up for you in your “real” field of interest.

This is also relevant for new grads. If your major and internships are in a totally different area, be prepared to talk convincingly about why you want to invest the next five years in this new field represented by the open position.

How Not to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”


1. Don’t overthink it:“Well, that’s a very hard question. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 5 years….hmmmm….that’s tough.”

In my work with individual clients, I’ve seen this mistake a million times. It’s great that you take the question seriously, but you are not being evaluated based on accuracy of answer. Use your answer to reassure the interviewer that you’re invested in this career path.

2. Don’t be too specific:“I plan to be a VP at a major firm with at least 7 direct reports, a company car, and a salary of 150K (plus options of course).”

Ambition is good. Goals are good. However, if you are too specific, you run the risk of stating goals that are not realistically achievable in the job available. From the interviewer’s perspective, that means you’re not a good fit.

3. Don’t be flaky:“I’d love to be CEO in five years. Then again, I’d also love to be touring with my band if that takes off.”

You can come across as flaky if you seem to have a million different ideas about what you want to do — or if you have zero clear ideas about your future. In reality, many good candidates are exploring different options or are still trying to figure it out. However, a job interview is not a session with your career coach. You want to give the impression that you’re focused and have a plan (even if it’s not the only plan you’re considering).

4. Don’t raise red flags:“Well, I’m not sure. I’m thinking about law school or business school or clown college.”

Many job seekers have long-term visions of going back to school or starting their own business. These are admirable goals, but there’s no need to share them with your interviewer, especially if you’re still weighing your possibilities.

Of course, if you’ve already committed to full-time grad school or another path that will conflict with your ability to perform in the job, it’s only fair to be open about that.

Also, there are some career paths that require advanced degrees and/or other additional training. For example, many finance and management consulting career paths require an MBA. In these cases, it will be expected that your five-year plan will include more schooling.

One Last Word of Advice

Take the time to think about this question and prepare a response. Don’t memorize a script, but practice how you will describe your long-term career plans in a way that will be relevant to the interviewer and help you tell your story about why you’re the best person for the job.

Here is CollegeHumor’s interesting take on this classic interview question.

Connect with Pamela Skillings on Google+

Photo Credit: MSVG

Written by

Pamela Skillings

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

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