Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Posted: 04/17/14 | Category: Interviewing Job Search

Certain questions are interview standards for a reason. They help your interviewer get to the root of your identity as an employee, revealing your true personality and career goals. One question that you can count on hearing is “where do you want to be in 5 years?”

This interview question itself is a tricky one. On the surface, it may seem inflexible. The road ahead can be hard to predict and where it will take you may be difficult to gauge. But do you really think your interviewer is trying to pigeonhole you into a set of career goals that are set in stone? Definitely not.

The interviewer is not looking to get a sworn commitment for your future. To get to the bottom of what he or she really wants to hear, you don’t need a crystal ball. Know that any interview question about your 5 year plan can be broken down into these three questions:

• Are you looking to advance into a leadership position?
• Do you crave chances to increase your accomplishments?
• How do you define career goal success?

Your response to “Where do you want to be in 5 years” should fills in the blanks. A strong answer shows what you value as an employee, how long you intend to remain on the team, and what you anticipate achieving. Developing the right answer is where the challenge lies.

Be vague on job titles – Interviewers are eager to hear about your drive to grow and career goals. It shows that you intend to stay around for the long haul and that you won’t hop off to another job so quickly. However, do not delve into the title you expect to have. It can be misconstrued as an aggressive move with your eyes fixed upon the interviewer’s job.

Be specific about goals – If there is something you want to achieve with the company, now is the time to mention it. For example, if you are looking to expand revenue by 150% over a five year period or increase savings by 75%, mention that in your response. Just don’t toss out baseless statistics. If you’re going to use numbers, have a game plan to back it up.

Keep it short and sweet – Rambling about your future will not do you any good. A compact response shows you’ve given what you will be doing in 5 years serious thought. Longer responses give the impression that you’re winging your words on the spot.

by James Walsh

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