There are people who do not even know where they see themselves at the end of the day, let alone asking them where they see themselves in 5 years. As a matter of fact, this could be a perfect question you could ask on a first date as it would give you an impression of the vision of the lady/gentleman you are interested in. It will let you know if you two could have a realistic and compatible future without any ‘hiccups’ – and that is the same purpose of asking this question at an interview.
Remember that the purpose of this question is to find out how your future ‘marries’ with that of the company and if, in the next 5 years, where you see yourself, is also a place in the company.
To answer this question, you must first know where you want to be in your career, in effect, you should have a career plan. The question can be reframed this way “Where in your career will you be in the next 5 years and within this company?”
After finding out where you will be, you look at the career development plan of the company you are applying to. It could be the administrative structure of the company showing who reports to who on the command chain. That will give you an impression of where you will be should you be promoted.
Depending on which industry you are applying to, career opportunities may differ and your way of approaching this answer may be different. Approaching the question in a structured manner will let you have control over what you are going to say and also help your interviewers appreciate your response.
You can use the acronym.
P – Position you see yourself in 5 years
W – What to do to be there
H – How will you do what you have to do
However, have in mind that, where you see yourself in 5 years, depending on the industry, may not necessarily be a promotion. This is usual for fresh graduates applying for entry positions. Also, make sure, your answer tallies with the vision of the company. For example, one cannot apply to be a Human Resource Manager in a company and tell interviewers that in 5 years, he sees himself as the CEO of his own company. One can only say such if you are applying to an organisation that trains entrepreneurs or has entrepreneurship as one of its main core values. Even that, it should relate to the job description on the job you are applying for.
Let’s look at the hypothetical example below. It is an interview for the position of Safety Officer, an entry position, at Gustavo Engineering Limited.
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Candidate A: In 5 years, I see myself capable of handling all matters of safety in this organisation, and also gained promotion to a managerial level with an increase in salary due to hard work and commitment to company policy.
Candidate B: In 5 years, I see myself as a competent and certified Safety Officer who is well vested in all matters of safety. In order to achieve this, I have established short-term goals on the procedure I will like to follow in order to achieve this. First, I will establish myself within the team and the organisation to understand the various safety processes. Second, I will establish contacts with the personnel I will be working with, as well as those in other departments to ensure team work and coordination. The last, but not least, will be to have a training plan with my manager in order to see how best I can grow my competencies and the skills I need to achieve my targets. I believe with this, I will be ready to take on a managerial position, and with better salary.
A detailed answer can always be differentiated from a generic answer, as can be seen above.
Now, a detailed answer makes your interviewers know that you have control of your future and have outlined a plan for it. So in effect, try not to put out generic answers when answering such questions, rather a detailed approach (also short, at least less than a minute response to answering it.
The answer may differ depending on the industry and job level, but you can always use the P.W.H acronym to inform your interviewers on HOW you will be doing WHAT to get the POSITION you are looking at in the next 5 YEARS.
You can leave a feedback and also other interview questions you may want me to write on during the next piece.
Glad to have you reading. Hope this was helpful? But then, really, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Hope you have an answer to that.
My name is Kotey.