Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Alternative and related questions

How long do you plan to stay/would you stay in this job if we offer it to you?
What are your long-term career goals?
How does this job fit into your long-term career plans?
How far do you feel you might rise in our organisation?

The meaning behind the question

The interviewer is trying to ascertain what your long-term career ambitions are. They want to get a better understanding of your motivations. They will normally be looking for someone who is keen to learn, develop and progress. However, they are recruiting for a specific role and they will want someone who is prepared to commit to that role for a reasonable period of time.

You may think this question is just a cliché and doesn’t really get asked in practice. Trust me – it does – and far more frequently than you might imagine.

Your answer

Yes, lots of people will think they’re displaying a great sense of humour/ambition/self-confidence to reply, ‘Doing your job!’ I wouldn’t recommend it, though – because it will all too easily come across as arrogant and aggressive.

Avoid being too specific. It’s very difficult for most people to know exactly what job they will be undertaking in five years’ time and so it can come across as unrealistic to quote a specific job title you are aiming for. Try to present your answer more in terms of what level you hope you will have reached – what level of responsibility, of autonomy. It’s also a good idea if you can phrase your answer to communicate that you hope you will still be with this same organisation in five years’ time.


Five years from now I expect I will have progressed significantly in my career and be making an even greater contribution. Having proved my value to the organisation I would hope to have been given increased responsibilities and greater challenges. I’ve clearly given a good deal of thought to working for you and I can see that there are indeed a lot of opportunities both for promotion and for ongoing professional development. My career is very important to me and I want to push myself hard to deliver the very best of which I’m capable.

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