The real reason why any interviewer will ask this question is because they really want to know the following.
- Are you really interested in staying with the company?
- What are your goals within the company and how will you achieve this?
- Can you see a future at this company?
So when you are asked this question, what the interviewer really wants to hear are your long term goals and career aspirations. This is somewhat of an assessment of your 5-year career plan in the company if you do get hired or what you think you will have accomplished several years in the future. Your answer then should be related to your short term goals, intermediate goals, and long term goals.
Knowing what you have planned means that you are a person with foresight and a strong drive to succeed. This is why your answers should highlight what your planned career goals are as you stay within the company.
It is a known fact that you cannot really tell how long you will stay with an organization. No one can really foresee the future, and you cannot immediately assume that you will stay with a company forever. There are several factors that you will consider when staying such as your long term goal list, your career objectives, and how you plan to achieve your goals.
However, during your interview, you still need to appear that you believe that this company is where you see your future. Position yourself as if you found the answer to “what is your dream job”, and that you found the career where you will grow old in. Try to express that you are done looking for other opportunities elsewhere and if you are hired, you will be there to stay forever. This shows the interviewer that it is a good idea to invest in you and may raise your chances of getting hired, after all, no one wants to hire a job hopper.
So what are truthful and impressive answers to the question of “How do you see yourself in five years?”
1) Always have a mindset of learning
You want to give an answer that will focus on your eagerness to learn as you work. You can say that as you work for this new company, you would like to absorb as much as you can and apply what you have learned in your career. You need to show that you aim to improve yourself by gaining knowledge. This is because when an interviewer sees that you are someone who wants to learn, then this creates an impression that you are a person who is intelligent and aims to excel. You then can talk about future goals and how you plan to achieve these goals.
A good idea is to give examples of something you will do to learn and then state where you will go from there. Say something like — “I see myself mastering all the tasks that I will do as a clerk, then someday becoming a supervisor and I eventually will have a management position.”
You can also give answers related to learning by stating your personal and professional goals. You can say, “I am doing A, B & C so that I will soon be doing D”. Discuss plans on how to achieve your long term goals and implement them. Show the interviewer how eager you are to learn as much as you can so that you can use your acquired knowledge and skills to help the company.
2) Talk in future terms.
Answering truthfully on how you see yourself in five years is a chance to show that you have a lot to offer and that you can contribute to the company’s future. Try to answer with facts and data that shows you are an achiever and not just all talk Tell stories about previous accomplishments with your previous organization and how you were able to solve problems and turn things around. Talk about how you helped achieve goals and hit a target, and that you want to do the same for this current company.
A story on how you helped your old team meet their sales quota is a good example. You can highlight how you planned, organized things with your previous setup. Enumerate how you guided your teams, helped them grow, and how you created and implemented a working system. You can then discuss how you plan to do the same in the future with your new company as part of your long term career aspirations.
3) Give clear directions on where you want to go
Another strategy when asked to state your plans and goals for the future, is to state a goal or position that is higher than what you are currently applying for. Being able to talk freely about your goals and dreams may impress your managers and shows that you are someone who has drive and ambition. Having ambitions and a clear direction on where you want to go shows that you are someone who is capable of devising a plan until completion. People like those are great assets to a company because they will work hard to steer their careers in the direction they would like to go.
However also remember, you need to keep your goals and aspirations within achievable levels. You cannot give amazing goals that seem impossible to achieve such as making sure the company will triple its revenue. Always be realistic and keep your feet on the ground. You should also, be careful that you do not sound too ambitious or arrogant. For example, you do not have to say, “I want to be your boss someday.” This may turn off the interviewer completely.
Answering the question of how do you see yourself in five years is not difficult to answer as long as you do the following. Plan and research, have a clear direction on where you want to go and focus on learning. Before your interview, practice answering this question with a friend or colleague. Focus on what you want to achieve and how to achieve them. With all these in mind, you should be able to answer this question easily.