This is probably the question that applicants fear the most during an interview. However, after the reading of this article you will no longer need to be anxious before an interview because we will explain why interviewers ask this question and who to answer it.
Why do hiring managers ask this question?
This question enables the person to know about three things: your ambition, your motivation and your loyalty. They kind of kill three birds with one stone with this question.
- By asking where you think you will be in 5 years they want to make sure that you are expecting something of your career, that you are not just applying for the job just because you need one. They want to find out if you are ambitious or not.
- Next, they want to know about you motivation and how implicated you will be in the company.
- Finally, they need to make sure that you are relatively “long-term material”. If you say that you want to be working on the other side of the world in five years they might not be utterly convinced of your loyalty and liability.
How to answer the “5 years” question?
There are two key words to remember when you answer that question: realism and honesty. The interviewer will quickly realise if you are just saying things to please them or if you are being truly honest.
It is also important not to be too specific, if you talk about really specific tasks you want to complete but that is not what the boss has in mind he may end up thinking you are not the man or the woman he needs. This is why focusing on the kind responsibilities you are expecting or the type of skills you want to develop inside the company is probably the right thing to do.
Focusing on responsibilities and new competences will show that you have ambition and it will also prove that you know that you still have things to learn and that you are willing to improve yourself.
A few examples of eliminatory answers
“I want to be the CEO of my own company”: it may be your lifelong dream but this is definitely not what your boss wants to hear. It you tell him that he will just think that you are applying in his company because you have no other opportunity and he will wonder about you motivation. He might also end up thinking that you will leave right when you get the chance. But remember, this question is supposed to ensure that you are loyal.
“I want to take your job”: you may think it is a funny thing to say but not every boss has your sense of humour, some of them don’t have any sense of humour at all actually so keep that answer for yourself if you want a chance to get the job.
“I want to be rich and to live on my own private Island”: this is also the kind of joke interviewers hear all the time and guess what?...They don’t like it. As we said previously focus on achievement and on what you may benefit personally and professionally from the position.
Keep in mind that there is no perfect answer because interviewers are not excepting you to say something in particular. All they want is for you to be honest so that they can have a better idea of your personality and expectations. Thus, be prepared for this question to come up during a job interview that way you will already have an idea of what you will say.