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

Posted March 8, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Recently, our friends over at tackled an incredibly important question. How do you answer the interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Robin Rayburn beautifully points out, this isn’t just an interview question, my friends. It’s a life question. Do you really know where you want to be in five years? Or ten? Should you?

Robin says:

The best way to start figuring out how to answer the question is to first ask it of yourself, before you ever step foot in an interview. What do you want out of life, what’s achievable in 5 years, 10 years? What is important to you–is it tangible things like money and titles or is it an esoteric thought of inner peace or happiness?

It’s a great exercise even if you never get asked this in the interview because you’ll know more about what you’re looking for in your next position to get you closer to where you see yourself. Whether you land the job is one thing, but you should always be assessing if each job opportunity is the right fit for you, too.

And, if you don’t ponder the question before an interview, you’re likely to fall flat, during it, trying to grasp for ideas or seeming as though you’re lost.

But, as with many interview questions, the tricky part is, is that there is no ‘right’ answer.

The best answers are those that come from within, that are honest, but not too rigid or lengthy.

So how do you begin to craft that plan?

  • First, think about constants. What people or things are in your life today that you expect will remain in five years? If your house, for instance, is one of these things, you’ve clearly identified your location in five years and that’s an important first step.
  • Next, thing about goals. Do you want to make more money? Change industries? Go back to school? These are important steps to consider in a five year plan and make sense to include in your answer to the interview question addressing it.
  • Finally, bring those two pieces of the puzzle back to the job at hand. Does that position or company fit with your constants and your goals? If so, say that. If not, you might want to rethink the interview.


About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."