How should you answer this tricky interview question?
A great interview answer is one that is both authentic and strategic. It’s the best answer that’s true and shows you’re a good fit for the job.
It may help to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. If you were them, you’d be looking for an employee who will not only stay a reasonably long time, but also will be 100% engaged in the job. Too many employees have mentally “checked out” from their jobs, going through the motions day after day. Often it’s because there’s a mismatch between the job and their career goals.
If you’re not sure what your goals are, you’re not alone! It may be hard to decide now what you’ll want a year from now, let alone five years. You might use your difficulty with this question as a wake-up call to explore your career options. But let’s get back to the immediate challenge: answering the question in an interv iew.
The good news is, your answer to the five-year question doesn’t have to be extremely specific. It may be enough to say something like this:
“I see myself continuing to grow with this organization, deepening my skills, taking on new challenges. I am interested in growing into (new area that’s a realistic next step within the company, such as mastering new technologies, team leadership or management) over time, once I’ve proven myself in (role for which you’re interviewing).”
“Being a recent graduate, I’m still exploring my career path, but I do know it will involve (skills or subject matter), so this job is a great fit. I admire this company because (reasons based on your research), and I can see myself continuing to develop my career here.
Key point: Show a balance of motivation with patience, ambition with realism, goal-setting with adaptability.
Be careful if your goal is to get your boss’s job – or if they might suspect as much and feel threatened. Communicate loyalty and flexibility in your answer.
Your answer to the five-year question may be brief, but it’s wise to prepare – so you can respond with confidence.