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Interview Tips

4 ways to answer ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

Job interviews can be so unnerving that sometimes they make for primetime television. But with so many rapid-fire questions, how do you properly answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Consider these including four points after gathering your thoughts.

Emphasize that you want to use the skills you’ll learn in this new job

This is part of expressing your interest in the job.

You don’t want to say that you’ll be on to far greener professional pastures in five years’ time, as The Muse points out. But you should reiterate the idea that you hope to be using the skills you might learn if selected for the job you’re interviewing for.

By doing so, you’ll show that the position could help you achieve some of your professional goals.

As The Muse suggests, “think about where this position could realistically take you, and think about how that aligns with some of your broader professional goals.”

When you’re not sure, talk about the expansion of your role

Career expert Alison Doyle, founder and CEO of CareerToolBelt.com, writes a sample script in The Balance for “when there is no clear career path.”

She writes that for jobs in places like sales, teaching, and more, you can talk about how much you want to improve at the job within five years.

Here’s the sample script Doyle provides:

“Within five years I would like to be recognized as an expert in terms of product knowledge, have developed very close relationships with clients, have significantly expanded the client base in my region, and perhaps have been assigned some major national clients.”

Be ambitious, but realistic

A Robert Half blog post illustrates this, recommending that job seekers include this in their response.

“Your answer to this question gives hiring managers an idea of your motivation and drive. Saying you love the status quo is not a good response,” the post says. “Instead, lay out professional goals you hope to achieve and how you plan to get there. However, mention your adaptability and openness to whatever comes your way. For best results, keep your ambitions in-house, as few employers set out to hire job hoppers.”

Reference the general direction that you want to head in

Debra Legg writes on The Washington Post jobs website that one way to reply is, “I would like to move toward (fill in the blank)…”

“Do some research and identify gaps in the company’s capabilities. Analyze your field, and figure out where it’s headed. Next, pinpoint where the two intersect. You’ll paint yourself as a forward thinker who’s already invested in the company,” Legg writes. “If, for example, you work in IT, describe your future in information security. If you’re in marketing, talk about your interest in digital platforms and targeting various demographic groups.”

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