When Asked in The Job Interview “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?”

Hailey Jiang
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“Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?”

You’re probably tired of being asked this over and over again. Job interviewers love asking this question, to the point that it seems as though it doesn’t provide much value. However, there are valid reasons for why employers ask this question. Let’s explore a few.

1. To see if you’re a good fit

Employers want to know if you align with their company values. Telling someone where you see yourself in five or ten years says a lot about your character and who you are. It tells someone your life goals, your ability to plan ahead, and many other things. It also tells someone what you value and what you’re passionate about. Employers use this question to see if you're a good fit for the company and whether you’ll succeed there.

2. To see who’s loyal

If you’re applying for a new job, you probably shouldn't mention the business you hope to start and work full-time for next year. Employers want to see that you’re committed and loyal to the job. The hiring process is expensive and tedious for companies; the last thing employers want is to go through the process of hiring someone only to have to repeat it again after onboarding you, training you, and making a commitment. Employers ask this question to see whether you’ll be consistent and stay loyal to the company.

Knowing this, the question “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?” may seem daunting. However, there’s no need to stress! Here are three tips on how to respond when asked this question.

1. Make your goals and values clear

As mentioned before, employers want to see that you’re a good fit for the company and that you’ll be loyal. If you hope to one day be a software engineer, then a fashion designer position may not be the best fit for you. Make sure the employer understands why you’re applying for their job in relation to your goals.

First, take a second to reflect on your goals in life. What type of job do you want? Do you want an office job, or a job that requires you to travel a lot? Do you want to work with computers or do you want to meet new people from around the world? Once you have an idea of what kind of job you want, start looking for similar positions. If you want to be a software engineer one day and you have some skills to build on, try applying for an entry level web developer position. Then, when you’re in the interview, mention your passion for computer science.

2. Be intentional and concise

Be prepared for the question to come up. Don’t ramble on about the high-rise apartment in New York City you hope to one day own, or the three dogs and five cats you want to raise on a farm. Furthermore, don’t make jokes such as “I hope to be a rich widow”, or “I’m just trying to make it through the week.” These jokes just tell the recruiter that you haven’t planned ahead and aren’t taking the interview seriously. Be intentional with what you say. Mention a couple of goals or aspirations, as well as how the job you’re applying for will help you reach them. Being purposeful with what you say and saying it concisely can get you far.

3. Be honest and realistic

It’s okay to not know what you want for the future. It’s impossible to plan every tiny detail of your life five or ten years down the road. If you’re unsure about what you want for the future, don’t lie and make up an elaborate story. Instead of mentioning specific job positions or achievements, talk about what you hope to learn in the future. Showing that your passion can go a long way.

However, don’t be too ambitious. If you’re applying for an entry-level job, telling your interviewer with 15 years of experience that you want to be in their position in five years doesn’t make you look confident; it makes you look naive. 

At the end of the day, interviews are only one part of the hiring process, and the question “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?” is only one part of the interview. If you prepare well and know what to expect, job interviews aren’t so intimidating.


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  • J'aime D.
    J'aime D.

    So say you hope to be in a higher position with this company?

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