One of the most frequent questions candidates tell us they have difficulty answering is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” No interviewer really expects candidates to be able to describe EXACTLY what they will be doing 260 weeks from now. So why do interviewers seem to insist on asking this question?

Why do interviewers ask the question?

The interviewer wants to understand more about your career goals and how the role you have applied for would fit into your longer term plans. They care about your career aspirations because they want to recruit someone who is motivated, proactive and who is likely to stick around if they are offered the job. Recruiting people is expensive for any organisation, getting it right is really important. If the interviewer feels that this role is important to you as part of your long term career aspiration’s, you are more likely to do well.

Where do you want to be in 5 years is a bit clichéd these days so you might hear it put differently:

How would you define success at this stage in your career?
What are your long term goals?
What is your ideal job right now?
What are you looking for?
What is most important to you in your career?

So what should you say?

Let’s be clear. You should never lie during a job interview. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% candid about all of the directions that you are investigating. Do make sure you know something about the organisation and the role you are applying for – research is key.

Keep your answer fairly general,especially if you don’t yet know a lot about the potential career path at the company. Make your answer honest, but broad enough that it doesn’t raise doubts about whether you would be a good fit for this position. For most interview questions, we recommend being specific, this is the exception.

Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company. Your interviewer wants to know that you’re ready to settle in and grow with the firm. Remember that the organization is going to be investing considerable time, effort, and money in recruiting and training someone for the job. You must at least show an honest intention to stay long enough to be a good investment. If you are taken on and you leave after a short time, the interviewer is not going to look great to their boss.

Demonstrate enthusiasm for the job as an exciting opportunity for you. Most importantly, make it clear that you are motivated to take on this new challenge right now.

Your response to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is your chance to sell the interviewer on your commitment to the career path and the position being offered. Take the time to think about the question and prepare a response in advance. Practice how you will describe your long-term career plans in a way that will be relevant to the interviewer and help you tell your story about why you’re the best person for the job.

Employers and candidates tell us that First Base is their first choice for help with their recruitment requirements and their personal career progression. If you would like to know more about how the First Base team could help you, contact us on 01453 755330.