Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? How to Answer This Question

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If you have ever been on a job interview, it is likely that a hiring manager glanced down at your resume and asked “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This doozy of a question makes many applicants start to sweat as they try to think of an answer that doesn’t seem too complacent (“I just want to be happy.”) or arrogant (“I see myself as CEO.”). 

The way you answer this question is an indicator of your future success. Here’s what you should think about before another hiring manager poses the question: 

Your Future Potential 

The hiring manager is not concerned about your personal long-term goals, but he or she does want to know about how you can support growth in the organization. The question is all about your future potential, and the way you answer shows if you are a go-getter who is enthusiastic about trying new things that will move the company forward, or just potential dead weight. 

Hiring managers are looking for employees who do not just accept change, but welcome it. They hire people who are eager to apply their talents to new opportunities and challenges with a focus on tomorrow’s success. 

The New Rules of Hiring 

This is a relatively new interview question, and the reason it has become a favorite of hiring managers is because the world has changed. Today’s businesses operate in an uncertain economic environment with lots of competition and technologies that can change the world overnight. Instead of using past performance as an indicator of potential success, they want to invest in employees that can handle the changing environment and grow with it. To succeed, you must be just as focused on the future as they are. 

Boosting Your Potential 

Instead of shying away from change, consider it an opportunity for growth. Become enthusiastic about development by engaging in company-sponsored training, then take it a step further by joining professional organizations, taking continuing education classes and doing volunteer work in your field. These opportunities will keep you relevant so you can better compete with other applicants and professionals. 

If you truly have no idea where you see yourself in five years, start by working on your weaknesses today. For you, it may be public speaking or conquering a fear of networking. For someone else, it may be brushing up on computer skills. No matter what it may be, start working on it today to make yourself more valuable and marketable as a professional. Think about how you can use these skills to benefit an organization and how they will enable you to grow with it. With a host of new skills under your belt, it will be easier to answer the once-dreaded question and land yourself a job.