One of the tricky questions to answer in an interview is, “where you see yourself in the next five years?” Quite a few things might come to your mind. “I might run for the elections,” “I’ll head your department,” “Will own a startup,” none of which can be necessarily said out aloud.
Seeing far enough to answer this question is quite an ask since it is difficult to even predict what is for lunch or dinner sometimes!! Why do the hiring managers expect you to answer this question then? Let us understand as to what the hiring managers are thinking and expecting as an answer in return.
Why Interviewers Ask This Question
A company will only offer you a new position if you are stable and will stay put in the role offered. The company would also like to ensure that your future career goals align with the organizational goals. The interviewer’s job is after all to assess the long-term strategies of the candidate to see if they and their career goals are the right fit for the organization.
This is why they ask this question to understand if the person they would hire is self-motivated, proactive and will stick around. Succeeding in your career is another thing but succeeding in the role for which you are likely to be hired is an important factor to be assessed by an interviewer as this determines whether you would be able to perform well.
What Other Ways Can This Question Be Asked
There are multiple ways to ask this question. The other similar or related questions that can be asked in an interview are as follows:
What are your long-term career goals?
Which is your ideal role till now?
What are you looking forward in this job?
What is being successful for you?
What is the most essential aspect for you in your career?
How to Prepare for the Question
The employer is looking forward to hiring someone who is really excited about the job at hand. Any hint that they might get which shows that this is not your dream role, might eliminate your chances to bag the offer. As an emerging competitive job market, the interviewers are ready to not hire you on the slightest pretext.
Merely showing interest in the role might not work for you. The real test begins when the interviewer asks about your 5-year plan. They want to know what your plans really are for the job on offer and someone who sees the opportunity as a great career move will definitely have an added advantage over other candidates in getting selected.
If you are planning to come up with your advertising or content startup in the next 5 years and you mention the same to your interviewers, don’t act surprised when they do not choose you for the role of an Ops Manager. Because it will really be hard for them to believe how you would justify the role of an operations manager. Also, why would hiring managers want to invest their time in you when you are planning to leave the job for your startup.
Having an alternative career path is a smart move but you don’t have to really be vocal about it to your interviewers. Addressing this question should have your focus on the current role only. Preparing for the role for which you have applied will keep you safe.
What to Say to An Interviewer
- Keep it Generic and Simple
Keeping your answer generic and simple would be of help in case you don’t know much about the organizational growth path. Being specific is not at all required as an answer here. Be true but at the same time ensure you don’t have to face raised eyebrows with your answer. Make your interviewers believe that you are tailor-made for the role.
- Show Interest in a Long-Term Association with The Organization
Show your interest in the role and a long-term career path within the organization. The interviewer would particularly be happy on learning that you would like to settle and grow with the firm. They are investing their time, effort and money in hiring someone and would like to hire a candidate who can be a good investment. If you particularly have a lot of short-term job associations on your cv, affirming the interviewers about your honest intentions to stick longer can really save you some face.
- Approach the Hiring Panel with Enthusiasm
Show the hiring panel that you are really interested and enthusiastically looking forward to this advancement in your career graph. Be proactive and show them that you are self-driven and motivated to take on this new responsibility. Your positive statement will increase your interviewer’s trust in you and will lead them to believe that you will take on this opportunity with great zeal and enthusiasm.
- Think Well in Advance
Take time and think well in advance before answering this question. You do not have to memorize the answer but definitely have to prepare and practice to describe your long-term career plans. Ensure that your answer is of relevance to your interviewers and would eventually win you the job. What you answer should lead the hiring team to believe that you are best fit and apt for the role.
“I plan to find an opportunity in a company which can accelerate my career and gears me up over time to perform more duties. With advancing tenure, I would like to take on management responsibilities and be involved in strategic planning which will be of immense importance to my learning curve. I am certain that this position and the organization would help me build my career.”
Sample Answer Analysis:
While the answer shows the candidates future goals and interests into strategy and management roles, it also clearly shows that the candidate looks forward to a long-term career with the company. The answer also showcases the importance that the candidate gives to acquiring new skills and learnings.
What Not to Do
While answering the question do not overthink as if the question is a hard one. It is a tricky one but you really don’t have to be accurate or specific about answering it. Some practice in advance can help you reassure your hiring manager that you are the right investment for the job.
The answer to this question is really at times situation-based. For example, certain jobs require more schooling and advanced degrees but a few of them do not need any schooling at all and in case you plan to study more it might raise a red flag with your employer. This is why you need to prepare the answer on the basis of your current situation or the role applied.
The interviewers ask you your 5-year plan to learn whether you are really serious about the role that you have applied for. They really wouldn’t want to know what you are exactly planning in the next 5 or 10 years. So, tell them that you are sticking around and see how this impresses your hiring team.