When in an interview, you want to prepare by going over the usual questions about experience, how you handled a difficult work situation, etc. But one that sometimes gives pause is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” You want to give a good answer that comes out as truthful but not too truthful (“on the same level as you”), confident but not too confident (avoid making the interviewer feel threatened), big but not too big (you don’t want to sound like you’re going to leave). So how do you manage this question properly?

  • Be honest without giving your hand away.

You can talk about how this particular opportunity will allow you to become more skilled in your field and how well it aligns with your professional goals and growth aspirations. Consider what this position can do for you, realistically, and how that connects to those overall goals. Then discuss that in your reply, how you see this job as an opportunity to become more of an expert in your industry and look forward to taking on more responsibility and managerial roles (if that is your aspiration, or something similar). 

  • Don’t fear not having a concrete answer.

There’s a difference between having future goals that aren’t entirely formed and having no idea where you really want to go. You may not have a definite idea of what you want from your career in the next five years. But you can say that, while unsure of exactly where you see yourself, you know that you want to become (again) more well-versed and develop useful skills in your field, and you view this position as one that will help you get there. And in five years, after having worked at Company X, you’ll have gained knowledge and insight to help you decide where you want to go. 

  • Remember who’s asking the question.

In any interview, part of the reason for the questions asked involves how you respond, not just the answer itself. They don’t need to hear your entire life plan year by year or the specific details of how you will achieve your goals. But they want to know that you see this job as more than just a stepping stone to go elsewhere and that they’ll get a worthwhile investment out of hiring you. So keep your answer tight, meaning practice until you feel you can answer the question succinctly without giving too much detail or too much away.

It’s a good idea to consider this question as you also consider what the position will do for your career down the line. For help with your next career move, visit PrideStaff.

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