One of the most commonly asked questions in a job interview is 'Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?'. There are two reasons why a potential employer will ask you this question in a job interview:
- To see if you are planning to stay in the company for a long time.
- To see how ambitious you are.
So the answer that you give needs to be focused around these.
For the first, it's important to know that companies don't like to lose staff. It not only takes time and money to replace them, but there is a risk that any new staff member they do hire won't work out. So you need to convince the interviewer that you plan to stay in the company for a long time. So just tell them that you see yourself in the future in their company.
Talking about your ambitions for the future can be more difficult to get right. Although in general being ambitious is seen by many employers as a good thing in a candidate (it shows commitment and is a good indicator that you will be willing to work hard in your job to progress), for some jobs being seen as too ambitious isn't.
To help you both know what to say and how to say it when answering this question in a job interview, I have created the below exercise. Through reading the three example answers below, you'll learn not only what type of things to talk about, but also professional English phrases and vocabulary that you can use in your own answer.
In addition to this exercises, we have a lot of other free online exercises on CVs/resumes and job interviews vocabulary and techniques
Example & Exercise:
Below are answers which 3 different candidates have given when asked the question 'Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?' in a job interview. Each of the answers is very different to the others.
Read each of the answers and think about why each candidate has said what they have said.
'I am an ambitious person. I think it is important on a professional level to be so. I find that having ambition not only makes people work harder, but makes them a lot more likely to excel at what they do in their job. And like most people, I would like to obtain a role which has more responsibility in the future.
And that is one of the reasons why I am applying for a position in your company. From what I have read and heard, there are not only a lot of opportunities to progress in your company, but your company also has a reputation for both recognising and rewarding talent.
So to answer your question. In 5 years time, I see myself in a more senior role with more responsibility.'
'I have been doing this type of job for over 5 years now. I consider myself very lucky that I have found a job which I love doing. Many people go through their whole life without finding the job which is perfect for them. So, I can see myself in the same or a similar role in 5 years time.
I have never really understood why some people change companies every two years. It takes time to build up relationships with your clients and your colleagues. And If you keep changing companies, you are throwing all that knowledge away.
So, if you find me to be the most suitable candidate for the position, I would see myself here in five years time.'
'Like most people, I would like to see my career progress. But that's in the long term. Before you can even think of promotion you need to build up your experience, knowledge of the organisation you are working in and most importantly trust. And that all takes time.
So if the opportunity to take a more senior role in your company did arise in the future, it would be something that I would seriously consider.'
After you do the quiz below, learn how to answer other job interview questions by doing our below exercises:
To help you understand what you need to say in an interview when answering this question, below are seven questions about what the candidates above have said. Choose the answer from each question's selection box which you believe is correct. When you have finished, click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, an Additional Information Icon "" will appear next to the answer. Click on this for extra information on why this answer is correct.
Now that you understand how to answer questions where an interviewer asks about your future work plans, practise by creating your own answer to this type of question.