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Where do you see yourself in five years?

Two women and a man sitting at a table interviewing a man opposite them

Why job interviewers ask 'Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and how you should answer.

When interviewers ask where you see yourself in five years, they want to hear that your career goals and motivations match the organisation’s.

“This question is about your plans for career progression,” says Kelly Services recruitment consultant Garrett Ashman.

What your answer shows about your work

Employers want to know you’re committed to the company long term and that you:

  • are dedicated, hard-working and keen to learn
  • have thought about your short, medium and long-term career goals. 

Hiring new staff can be an expensive investment, especially for small organisations. Recruiting, training and professional development cost both money and staff time.

Career development consultant Juli Paurini says, “Who actually knows where anybody will be in five years time? When answering this question, just be honest and clear about where you want your career to go, that’s most important.”

What your answer shows about your personality

Employers are interested in their new staff members’ personalities, and want to know that you will:

  • fit with the existing team
  • agree with the hiring organisation’s culture, goals and strategic vision.               

Employees who fit the workplace culture are more likely to:

  • enjoy their work environment
  • work effectively and efficiently
  • want to remain in their jobs long term.

How you might reply

If you’re asked where you see yourself in five years, show you:

  • have thought deeply about your career
  • want to learn
  • are committed to achieving your career goals
  • have career goals that fit the hiring organisation’s.

Here are three sample answers:

  • “I will use the skills and expertise I gain in this position to become a key contributor in the department and across the organisation. I will take advantage of any opportunities to learn and grow my career.”
  • “My goal right now is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges over time. In five years, I’d like to assume more management responsibilities and get involved in product strategy. But most importantly, I want to work for an organisation where I can build a career.”
  • "I am driven to be the best at what I do, and I can’t see that changing in five years. I want to work somewhere where I’ll have opportunities to develop my skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people I can really learn from.”

Find out more

Sources

  • Ashman, G, recruitment consultant, Kelly Services, careers.govt.nz interview, October 2019.
  • Fisher, N, ‘Putting You Back in Charge of Your Career’, 25 May 2018, (www.nataliefisher.ca).
  • Half, R, ‘Where do You See Yourself in Five Years?’, 27 February 2017, (www.roberthalf.com.au).
  • Paurini, J, career development consultant, Work Connect, Tertiary Education Commission, careers.govt.nz interview, October 2019.
  • Seek, ‘Don't Muck It Up! How to Ace Common Interview Questions’, accessed October 2019, (seek.co.nz).
  • Seek, ‘How to Answer: Where do You See Yourself in 5 years?’, accessed October 2019, (seek.com.au).
  • Skillings, P, ‘How to Answer: Where do You See Yourself in 5 years?’, accessed October 2019, (www.biginterview.com).

Updated 29 Nov 2019