How to answer the WORST question asked in an interview

by | 07.09.23

As a job seeker interviews can be nerve-wracking and one of the most daunting questions you might face is “where do you see yourself in 5 years”. This question is really challenging as you need to demonstrate your potential, ambition and alignment with the Company’s goals. An employer asks this question because it can reveal a lot about your commitment, career goals and aspirations which are essential qualities Companies seek in their employers. Here are some tips on dealing with this awful question:

Be honest and realistic

When answering this question be honest and realistic about your career goals and aspirations. Avoid being vague or unrealistic as this can give the impression that you haven’t thought much about your future plans. Never, ever answer the question on a personal level. An employer doesn’t want to know that in 5 years you hope to be married and have two children.

Show your ambition

Every employer is seeking an ambitious and motivated candidate to grow within the Company. Show your ambition by sharing your long term career goals and how they align with the job you have applied for. If you feel confident enough tell them you would like to have proven yourself as very competent and possibly have moved into a management role.

Don’t give a silly answer

When answering this question avoid being silly or unrealistic. For example saying this you see yourself as the Company’s CEO within five years is unrealistic and may make you look like a wally, focus on realistic and achievable goals that demonstrate your ambition and commitment to your career growth.

Make it clear you want to make a contribution

It’s really important that you make it clear that over the next 5 years you want to contribute to the Company’s growth and success. Tell the employer you would like to take on more responsibility and perhaps will consider proactively seeking out professional development opportunities if they will help your career.

Make it clear you are flexible

Over the next 5 years you will definitely want to see yourself grow. So make sure you make it clear to the employer you are happy to take on new challenges and expand your skill set. Employees want strong team players as they are vital to a Companies success so make it clear that you love collaborating with others and are happy to gain skills and knowledge by contributing overall.

Show an alignment with Company goals

Make it clear you want to grow with the Company and see a long-term future for yourself with the organisation. Stress that you plan to continually improve yourself by seeking out opportunities to stay up-to-date with industry trends. Emphasise that your ultimate goal is to make a significant impact on the Company’s growth and success whilst also advancing your own career goals.

Highlight your skills

Take the opportunity when you are asked this question to showcase your skills and how you plan to develop them further. This demonstrates your commitment to your career growth and potential value to the Company. Never be afraid to brag about a strong quality you have either, so if you’re good on the phone boast about it.

Be direct, not vague

Avoid giving generic or unclear answers that don’t align with your career aspirations. For example saying that you see yourself ‘growing in the Company’ may not demonstrate enough ambition of a clear plan for your long-term career goals. Be specific about the career path you want.

Don’t appear short-sighted

Employers are looking for candidates with a long-term vision for their career growth, not short-term goals. Ensure when you are asked the 5-year question your answer includes how you plan a develop your skills and progress in your career beyond the five-year mark. Remember to keep your ambitions real and achievable.

Try not to give the same answer as everyone else

Employers have repeatedly heard the same ‘answers’ to this common job interview question. It’s important to stand out if possible by providing a unique response as this showcases your strengths and aspiration. For instance you could give a funny answer like “I believe I have the ability to reach the moon, however I would really like to be doing well in my role and making a real contribution to the success of this organization”.

Answering this really difficult question can be tricky as it required you to have a crystal ball. However by considering your long-term personal career goals and creating a five-year plan you can position yourself for success over the long haul. Always have a clear sense of your ultimate goal and remember to sell yourself.

Angela Burton