‘Where You See Yourself In Next 5 Years?’ I don’t know why interviewers ask this question, because they know the candidate is going to lie or will give a whimsical answer like I did. When I was a fresher giving interviews, I said ‘In 5 years, I’ll be sitting at your place.’ The moment the words left my mouth, I realized what a bullshit answer it was. I was invited by ISB Hyderabad to conduct a session on this very topic. But, I am also making this article for you because I realized that everybody needs help with answering this question. After my first attempt, I have given a lot of interviews and I have also taken interviews and all of them have taught me this. The way you answer this question can set you apart from 50 other people waiting outside who have similar qualifications as you and can get you the job. So it doesn’t matter if you are a fresher, an experienced person or a person looking to change your career because today by the end of this article you’ll know exactly how to answer this question.
So in today’s article we are going to first understand what is it that the interviewer wants to know about you, through this question? Common mistakes we make while answering it. I’ll give you a simple formula for answering, where do you see yourself in 5 years? But most importantly, towards the end, I’ll give you a Bonus Tip that’ll help you answer this question confidently and make a great first impression. Let’s begin.
When they ask, ‘Where do you see yourself after 5 years?’ all they want to know is, if you are Ranbir Kapoor hopping from one relationship to other every 2 years or if you are committed to one like SRK. ‘I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow, you are asking about 5 years? Is an answer you should keep to yourself? Because through this question, the interviewer wants to know if you are ambitious and have really thought about your career. If you’re long-term goals align with the company. They want to see if there is an overlap between what you want to do and what the company can provide. They basically want to weed out the people who want THIS job only versus the ones who just want a quick solution to their unemployment. Look, hiring is a tedious process. You have to conduct interviews, do all the legal paperwork, train new people, and pay those people to be trained. So why will they want to invest their time and effort in you, if your plan is to leave the job soon. So if there are a set of candidates with similar qualifications, the interviewer will most likely pick you if you sound more dependable and check these boxes. So, let’s see how to NOT answer this question.
#1. I don’t know. It sounds like you are not serious about your career and hence will not be serious about this job. I see myself 5 years older. Please don’t try to be funny. An interview is not a date. I plan to be the CEO of this company. Not only is this answer unprofessional and immature, the interviewer might think that because of your unrealistic expectations you might not be happy with your progress in this company and you’ll leave soon. And last but not the least, don’t mention a designation or be too specific, like… ‘In the next 5 years, I am going to be a VP, settled in UK with a pay package of 1 Crore per annum.’ It is good to have goals but it’s best if you present those goals not as results because you cannot control results but present those goals in the form of actions because you can control what actions you are going to take in the future. I am going to explain what I mean by that with examples in the next segment. Now, you might be wondering. ‘So, you don’t want me to be honest while answering this question?’ Relax. I want you to be honest. But the difference between honest and hired is PRESENTATION! The truth needs to be presentable. And that brings us to the ‘Next 5 Year’ formula which has 3 elements.
- Excitement – They want to know if you will stick to this job long-term. So it is obvious that you need to convey how exciting the work is to you.
- Talk about what you will do instead of who you will be – Instead of saying, ‘In the next 5 years, I will be head of The Editorial Department’, talk about how. For example, Now there are 2 things that you need to notice in this answer.
- Instead of mentioning that I’ll be head of the editorial team in the next 5 years, I talk about what actions I am going to take to get there.
- It is best to divide your answer into short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals can be about using your current skills and getting to know the company better. And your long-term goals can be about taking up more responsibilities, solving a pain-point that they have or making the company function better.
Predict what the company needs. Some companies, especially start-ups evolve frequently. So it is best that you stay updated. And for that, research about the company and figure out what skills they might need in the future.
So in the answer, I want them to tell me what they are going to learn that’ll help the company in the future. Mentioning a few skills that you plan to develop outside of work always helps. But try not to go overboard. Otherwise, they might think that you have a life. Jokes apart, it is great to showcase what skills you plan to acquire but present it in a way that compliments your role. So those were the 3 elements of the formula. See, it’s simple. You first figure out what are your goals. Then figure out what is it that the company needs. The interviewer wants to know if there is an overlap between these 2 things because that overlap is the reason why you’ll stay with the company for the next 5 years.
See, people tend to lie during interviews. A lot. And recruiters have heard it all. The lies, the well-rehearsed clichés. So the only thing that’ll appear like breath of fresh air and actually impress the recruiter, is honesty. So today’s Bonus Tip is this ‘Be Honest’. It is okay to not know what you’ll be doing in the next 5 years. Don’t lie. But also convey to the recruiter that you have aspirations and you are not a lost soul without a sense of direction. Everybody has difficulty answering this question. But consider this difficulty as a sign that. NOW, it is high time for you to explore various career options and take some serious decisions. Now YOU, go get that job.