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Interview Tip: “Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?”

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Interviews are hard; that’s no secret. Especially when you’re being asked about something you don’t necessarily have an answer to. I mean, we can’t predict the future, can we? Not yet at least, although Sophia may have more of a hunch… That said, most of us certainly have an idea of what we want to be doing with our career.

In this post, we’re going to look at the interview question, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’, and explore ways in which you can provide a solid answer.

I would always suggest taking a moment to fully understand what the interview question is asking. I know it may seem simple, but you want to ensure that your response actually provides an answer to the question they’re asking rather than going on a complete tangent.

So let’s break it down.

What your interviewer is truly asking in this interview question

Five years from now, what position/stage in your career are you aiming for and what you are looking to achieve from your career, and more specifically the role that you are applying for. Ultimately they want to find out how committed you are to both of these. This leads me on to my first piece of advice.

Come prepared for common interview questions

This interview question that is highly likely to come up in your interview so make sure you’ve taken the time to prepare some answers. I would avoid coming up with a ‘script’ as such, because your answers can then be perceived as insincere. Have a think about what it is you actually want to do with your career.

What are you looking to achieve and how do you envision this panning out? Jot down some ideas and if you already know what you want to be doing, make sure you can verbalize your thoughts.

Be honest with this interview question

I can’t stress enough, the importance of being honest and transparent. This applies to the entirety of the interview.

If you’re lying, your interviewer will pick up on this. If you’re responding with an answer that you have supposed they would like to hear, they will know what you’re up to.

In fact, if you have prepared in this way then they will have heard your answer many times before and it will be hard to stand out from your competition.

A lot of people these days like the fluidity of moving to different roles. So say for example you’re a designer and you want to move into research, that’s absolutely fine. Or you would like to have the seniority/position of your interviewer, then don’t be shy; let them know. If you’re actually looking to set up a business one day but are learning your craft, again, let them know. Again, the key here is transparency and honesty.

This can spark an interesting conversation as it’s likely that the hiring manager was in your position not so long ago.

What are your motivations?

My best advice is to remember that your interviewer is a human just like me and you. Unless Sophia is interviewing you, of course.

I want to reinforce the importance of actually having an answer, because even responding ambiguously is still fine. So avoid the answer “I don’t know”, and come prepared for this interview question. What they’re looking for is your intentions, what your motivations are, what you are looking to achieve from your career, and more specifically this role.

What I mean by this, is that they aren’t expecting you to suddenly materialize a timeline that you have prepared on an A4 sheet, depicting your ideal career-span year by year, day by day.

They’re looking for what is motivating you to apply for this role and how hard you are going to work for them in order to achieve your personal goals. Ultimately, they’re collating this with what they’re looking to achieve as a business and from hiring this position.

At the end of the day, your interviewer is looking to achieve the same outcome as you. So why not help one another along the interview process by being prepared, sincere, and easy to talk with!

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