In my opinion, this is one of the dumbest interview questions you can get. Because nobody knows what will happen in five years time. Just take the recent virus pandemic as an example. We may have goals and dreams, ideals and illusions. But we will always have just a partial control over the things that happen in our life, and no control over the things that happen in the world, and have an impact on us in this age of global economy.
Nonetheless, this question belongs to most popular interview questions and you will often face it. Dumb or not, you should know what you want to say once the hiring managers inquire about your future plans. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question. Check also my notes below the answers, as they explain what you should focus on in your interview.
7 sample answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” interview question
- I see myself having a managerial role in this company. That would be a dream come true. Of course I know that I am just starting my professional career, and have to start from the bottom, just like everyone else in the company. I need to learn a lot and prove my skills, to get a chance to apply for a managerial job later. But I believe that with my motivation, enthusiasm, and willingness to sacrifice something for the success in my professional career, I can achieve this goal in five years time.
- To be honest, I do not dream big. I try to be realistic, and will be happy to still work as a secretary in five years time. However, I hope to improve on my typewriting and time management skills, and basically on everything else, and be a much better office manager than I am today. That’s my goal and aspiration, and I also hope to still have the same love for this profession, and enjoy my time in work. Besides that I have some goals I try to pursue in my personal life, and since everything relates to everything, they will also motivate me to follow my goals as a secretary.
- My vision is graduating from the University in four years from now. I know the options I will have once I attain this goal, the jobs I will be able to apply for. However, that’s the future, and at the moment my main goal is to get this part time job with your restaurant, so I can pay my bills and continue my studies. That’s the most important thing, and I prefer to focus on it instead of the future. Because more than anything else we have to take care of the present, the step we are taking right now. If we do the right thing today and on every other day, the future will take care of itself.
- To be honest I cannot tell. I am still young, and I try to get a variety of experiences, to find my calling, some meaningful purpose, some big goal I can follow in my life. Of course just like everyone else, I see what’s happening on Earth, the problems we are facing right now. I’d love to contribute to solving them, so we can preserve this wonderful place for the future generations. But what exactly my role will be, and what job I will have in five years time, I cannot really tell right now.
- I want to start my own medical practice. You see, I am honest to you right from the start, and I think that we both know how it is in this field. Good dentists won’t work under a supervision of a more experienced colleague forever, or in their office. They will eventually start their own practice, get their won clients, follow their own dreams and vision. Until it happens, however, until I am ready to start my own practice, I will be more than happy to work for you here, because I know that I can learn a lot at this place, and I like everything about your practice.
- To be honest, I do not look that far in the future. Life has taught me the hard way that we cannot really predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone in five years time. Surely, it’s good to have some goal, some vision that drives us forward. But it’s not my case, not my philosophy. I prefer to live in the present moment, always focus on the task at hand, and enjoy the everyday things in work, at home, with my family. I think that this makes for a happy life, and maybe it’s even better for my employer. Because if I always fantasized about better jobs I could have had, or other journeys I should have pursued in my life, I’d easily lose my motivation…
- I see myself as a mother, finally, in five years time. I’s great to have a job you love, and we should certainly try our best in work, but at the end of the day life isn’t only about working. I hope to start a family in five years. Until it happens, however, or if it does, because we cannot predict the future, I want to do an excellent job as a social worker, and make a positive difference in the local community. If I get a chance to work in your organization, I will definitely have a chance to make something big happen…
Connect your future with your prospective employer
Hiring new staff costs money. Once they have a great employee like you onboard, they do not want to see you leave, be in it six months or in five years.
Always when it makes sense and when it is possible, you should connect your future with their company. Pick a senior role, and say that you’d want to have it in five years time. And if you apply for a position that doesn’t offer any career growth opportunities, say that you’d be happy having the same role, doing a great job, perhaps improving on your weaknesses over time, becoming better in your profession.
As long as they see that there’s some loyalty to their organization, and that you do not think already about a job in another company while still applying for the job with them, they will be happy about your answer.
* Special Tip: This isn’t by far the most difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Having no vision is also fine
Life isn’t a computer game. There are endless variations, and many things can happen to us every day. The fact that you studied a certain subject or made certain decisions in the past, does not determine the job you will (or should) have in five years time.
It’s perfectly fine to say that you are still trying to find your calling, that you aren’t entirely sure about the direction you want to take in your life or professional career. This answer makes perfect sense in big corporations. You can have all kinds of roles with them, so if after three years you see that accounting isn’t for you and want to pursue career in marketing, it will be possible.
Do not talk about your travel around the world trip, or about a successful startup you hope to build one day
If you dream of a career of an entrepreneur, and a job is for you only a mean to an end–to save money and eventually start your own business, I suggest you to not talk about it in an interview.
The same is true when you dream about traveling the world (just like many young people do), and want to save money and hit the road, perhaps searching your true calling, or just to enjoy your time on Earth until we destroy it.
In such cases, you do not have to tell the truth in the interview. If you do not want to lie, you can always say that you aren’t sure. At the moment you are happy to interview for a job with them, and you will see what the future will bring.
Do not be afraid to philosophize a bit
At the end of the day, HR managers and recruiters are people, just like me or you. They can easily get bored in the interviews, especially if they hear the same answer from each job applicant.
That’s why it makes sense to, at least sometimes, come up with an unorthodox answer. Saying that you do not believe in planning and prefer to live in the present moment (see sample answer no. 6), you will surely tell them something they do not hear often from the job applicants. And that’s exactly what you should try to do, at least with some answers, because you want them to recognize you and remember you for something.
Do not be afraid to show creative thinking in an interview, or share some opinion that is far from mainstream. Most HR managers will be happy to finally hear a unique answer from someone :).
Ready to answer this one? Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Do you know anyone who works for us?
- What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?
- Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.