Interview Question: "Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 June 2022

Published 11 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a question about your future plans or goals that an interviewer might ask. Employers typically ask this type of question to gather insight into how well this job fits with your overall career aspirations. When planning your answer, it's important to reflect on your long-term goals and how they might impress the hiring team. In this article, we explain why interviewers ask this question, share steps on how to answer it and provide you with example answers.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

Why do employers ask, "Where do you see yourself in five years?

Employers ask, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" to assess whether you see yourself growing with their company. For employers who want a candidate with a growth mindset, they use this question to see if you're ambitious to develop your skills and experiences with the company. Your answer can show employers you hope to advance your position while helping the company meet its long-term goals.

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How to answer and explain where you see yourself in 5 years?

Answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” by discussing how you could evolve in this role. This might come naturally to you, but sometimes responding to this question can be challenging. There may be times when you don't see yourself in a role long term and that's okay, though it's not necessary to disclose that to your interviewer. In this case, imagine how the job might help someone grow in this career trajectory and try to apply it to your answer.

Either way, it can be helpful to do some prep-work before answering this question in an interview. When preparing your answer, consider the following best practices:

1. Think about how your goals fit with the job description

When crafting your answer, remember to review the job posting carefully. Consider which of the required skills and traits you already have and would like to strengthen and also those you'd like to gain more experience in. It can be helpful to look at the specifics of what the job entails and think about what it would mean to advance your knowledge and expertise in these areas over the next five years.

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2. Envision the experiences related to this position that you'd like to have on your resume in five years

It can be a helpful practice to think about what an ideal resume might realistically look like for someone in this role five years from now. Think about the following categories and how they might look in the future:

  • Are there incremental job titles you could grow into? For example, moving from an Engineer I to an Engineer II.

  • Are there certain skills (technical or soft) that people in this field typically hone? A social media manager may want to gain experience creating videos or graphics.

  • Are there any relevant or well-known industry awards or certificates you could pursue? A sales representative may aim to win a “top salesperson of the year” award.

  • Are there specific achievements you could map out? For instance, becoming an expert and winning the opportunity to mentor junior team members.

You may not need to include these points in your answer during the interview. Although, thinking about what your future resume might look like can help you shape your response.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

3. Reflect on your interests and how they might evolve

In any profession, there is room to grow and continue learning. There might be a particular area of interest you want to focus on in the role you're interviewing for, and it might reasonably take several years for you to reach an expert level.

For example, a cosmetologist might be interested in nurturing client relationships and learning about the technology that other businesses use to do that. As a result, they might try to learn more about customer relationship management software and marketing communications. Thoughtfully reflecting on tasks and other relevant skills or subject matters that interest you can help form ideas for where you see yourself in five years.

Related: Interview Question: ‘Tell Me About Yourself'

4. Show how you plan to add value

Employers may ask this question to determine how you might help their company over the next few years. While you might share goals that help yourself, you may also try to connect them to the success of the workplace. For instance, if you want to develop your communication skills, you can explain that your reason to do this is to better connect with clients.

4 example answers

Consider using these example answers to help you craft your own response to this common interview question:

1. Become a leader

This example showcases a candidate who wants to work their way towards a leadership position. Answering in this way shows that you plan to take initiative in your role. This type of response is ideal for roles where there are opportunities to move up in the company:

Example: “In five years, I would love to be an industry expert that others can come to for ideas, help and strategy. I've had amazing mentors and managers in my past positions, so I'd like to be able to provide similar guidance, potentially taking on a leadership role. Finally, I'd like to have taken the lead on a project I'm passionate about. I'm motivated by connecting my initiatives to a company's larger goals and I'm excited by the prospect of getting more experience in that."

2. Develop more skills

This example showcases a candidate's desire to hone their craft while also helping their team succeed. This response shows this candidate is a team player and is passionate about the job. Crafting a similar response can show that you reviewed the job description:

Example: “Some of my future goals for the next few years include leading a design team in a formal or informal capacity. I'm also excited about the prospect of working with product and event teams on developing streamlined processes. This is a natural fit with my project management background. I'd also like to further develop my skills in user experience to aid in creating more user-focused designs all around.”

3. Meet company objectives

Showing an employer that your personal goals align with those of the company is a smart decision. This sample answer shows how a candidate might naturally incorporate their five-year plan to help the company:

Example: "When researching your company, I noticed that your long-term plan is to branch out to international markets. As someone who majored in international studies, it has been my dream to work abroad. I could envision myself starting with your Hong Kong branch to learn the fundamentals about your company and clients. As the company makes more international connections, I would happily volunteer to travel or move abroad, based on your needs.

I speak several languages, which makes me suited to meet with foreign clients. I also have travelled quite a bit, making me aware of different customs. It's my goal to continue to travel the world while also developing my sales skills and growing with a company with such a strong mission like yours."

4. Grow as a professional

This sample answer is useful for candidates who are just getting started in their careers. When looking at your entire career, five years isn't that long. This answer can help you show how you hope to develop as a candidate in the near future, perhaps after graduation or an internship:

Example: "Next spring, I plan to graduate from my bachelor's program in communications. Within the next five years, it's my goal to work at a production company like yours. As someone just starting in this field, I understand I have a lot to learn on the job. For my first few years, I hope to develop my production skills and get to know people in the industry. I plan to attend conferences and skill workshops to help.

After being with a production company for five years, I hope to grow into a leadership role. Preferably, I would like to move from production assistant to production manager. I am willing to put in the hard work and strenuous hours to make this goal a possibility."

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