Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years? (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

So you want to know how to answer “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Well to do that, we need to get back in our magical time machine and go to a time most of us remember fondly. Do you remember as a kid playing with the Magic 8-Ball? It was always popular at sleepovers!magic-8ball For those of you who aren’t familiar with it…let us explain:

It was a goofy novelty toy; a giant pool ball filled with mysterious blue liquid.  You’d shake the ball, ask your question, and then flip it over…reading the answer on the bottom as it drifted up in ghostly white letters. Regardless of the question you asked, you were only guaranteed one of twenty possible answers and odds were, if you weren’t happy with what you got…you’d shake the ball and ask again. And again. And again. It was fun to pretend we had a window into the future by using the toy, but we all knew…it was just a toy and that there was no real way to predict the future.

So why do employers ask you to do just that? Have you ever been in an interview and been asked the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Before we go any further, you should download our free cheat sheet. In it you’ll get word-for-word sample answers to “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

FREE BONUS PDF "CHEAT SHEET" Get our Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years cheat sheet that gives you  3 more word-for-word example answers to this interview question and more. 

Click Here To Get Your Cheat Sheet

Why do they ask this question? Do they think that at some point between putting down our 8-Balls and joining the real world that we’ve developed a bit of ESP? Of course not!

As much fun as it would be to actually have these skills (can you say Lottery Winner?!?), no employer actually assumes you have those powers.

Their reason behind the question isn’t to test your precognitive abilities but rather to see how well your answer lines up with the company’s long term goals.

Now before you rush into a long winded explanation of where you think you’ll be and all the money you’ll be making at your new and fabulous job, let me stop you for a second and give you a serious word of warning.

THIS QUESTION IS A TRAP.bear-trap(1)

Unlike many of the other questions we’ve explored before including Traditional and Behavioral ones, a question like this is intended specifically to trip you up.

Why would an interviewer want to trip you up? Simple…

Because they want to get rid of you.

Wait…isn’t the purpose of an interview to hire someone? Why would they ask questions designed to get rid of applicants?

Yes, the ultimate goal of any good hiring manager is to find an employee to fill their vacancies, but they’re not looking for just anyone.

They want the Perfect Candidate and trick questions like this one are meant to weed out everyone but the best of the best.

How To Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years”

So how do you answer this question without falling into the trap?

By sidestepping it.

Rather than leaping directly over it and avoiding the question all together, we’ll show you how to work around it in such a way that you not only answer the question, but that you do it in such a way that your answer aligns with the company’s long term goals and values.

First off, let’s stop and look at the question itself.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Seems like an easy question, right?

Wrong.

Amazingly enough, this question is one that most job seekers get incorrect.

Why?

Because they’re answering it just like you’d answer it if you were shaking that Magic 8-Ball and peeking into the future…a future where you see yourself as driven and motivated.

Answering this question with a demonstration of your ambition (“I see myself as CEO of the company driving a sexy new sports car and bringing in unprecedented profits!”) might seem like the answer a hiring manager wants to see, but in actuality…it’s not.

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t answer with “Well, I see myself in your seat doing your job.

No. No. No. That answer isn’t funny. It’s not ambitious. It’s a red flag…and you’re waving it right in an interviewer’s face.

If you’re interested in getting more word-for-word sample answers to this interview question  then Click Here To Download Our “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years Cheat Sheet”

Top Tips For Avoiding the Traps While Outlining Your Future Goals

The thing you have to keep in mind is…they’re interviewing you for a job right now.

Not a job in the future…so why would they want to hear you wanting to do any job but the one you’re going for right now?

Rather than demonstrating your ambition and drive for future jobs…a hiring manager wants to see you demonstrate your level of commitment to the job you’re interviewing for.

They want to know what your career goals are for the career you’re interviewing for right now.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however…

They do want an answer to the question.  Yes, it’s all fine and dandy to show them that you are committed to the position, but they are still looking for an intelligent and well-balanced answer to the question.

So firmly plant your answer in the reality, which is, doing your best to do the job they are hiring for.  But make sure you show that you are a candidate that is ambitious and sees a future within the company, but is also a realist about what the future may hold.

What are your career goals?

Ask yourself this question, and research the company to find out what a potential growth path might be for you.  This should be the foundation for your answer.

So without further ado, here are the tips:

Keep the job in mind: Yes, you’ve already demonstrated your desire for the position based on the fact that you’ve applied and are now interviewing for…but this question is meant to dig deeper than that and find out just how much you really want the position. Many job require training and no employer wa