Answering the 'Where Will You Be in Five Years?' Question

Susan Hall
Slide Show

10 Good Ways to "Tell Me About Yourself"

Break the interview pattern and grab attention.

I've written that you need to do your homework before going into an interview-and also about some questions you might be asked:

 

 

Here's another one that might give you fits: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" As writer Amy Gallo points out in this Harvard Business Review post, that's certainly not a question you want to answer on the fly-nor do you want to make up something that sounds good.

 

Especially with the rapid change in tech, five years is an eternity and the landscape could be completely different. Gallo says it's important to spend time in introspection pondering what's really important to you. After that, if you seriously don't know, it's no sin to admit it, she says. But she advises going in to the interview with three things you want the interviewers to know about you, and you can use this question and others to convey them.


 

While the question might sound straightforward, it might be the interviewer's attempt to learn other things about you, such as:

  • Is this person going to be with us in five years?
  • Is this position a good fit for you?
  • How ambitious are you?

 

While you don't have to be specific-in fact, she warns against naming a particular position as your goal-she advises instead that you focus on the learning you hope to accomplish, such as:

I can't say exactly what I'm going to be doing in five years, but I hope to have further developed my skills as a strategist and people manager.

And it doesn't hurt to provide a goal in a shorter time frame, such as:

I don't know where I'll be in five years, but within a year, I hope to land several high-profile clients.

She says you shouldn't feel limited to answering the narrow question asked. Instead, broaden it to communicate what you want the hiring manager to know about you.



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