The question- “what do you expect to be doing in five years?” is notorious- but actually quite common as far as interview questions go. Sometimes the interviewer asks about 10 years- or even 15 years- but the concept is always nearly identical. Anyone who has had this question asked will likely tell you that it is difficult to answer- but it is possible to give an explanation that will please the interviewer if you know what she or he is really asking.
Essentially- interviewers wants to know what to expect of you if they choose to hire you. In many ways- this question is deceptively complicated as hiring managers really are just asking you what your intentions are. That does mean- however- that you need to consider what your future plans say about you as a candidate. Make sure you prepare for this practically inevitable question before your interview begins. You should know what you are going to say so you can answer without hesitating or having to think- which could give the impression that you are indecisive or unsure about your goals.
How to Answer the ‘What Do You Expect to Be Doing in Five Years?’ Interview Question
Be Realistic: Every job candidate wants to paint him or herself as ambitious and hardworking- but interviewers can recognize when you are being unrealistic. Because- “what do you expect to be doing in five years” is one of the many common interview questions- interviewers hear ridiculous answers frequently. Think about the field you are entering- and do your research to see how long one typically works before getting a promotion or being offered a new job. Are workers in demand or in abundance? Take all this information into consideration when you are figuring your answer out. An over-ambitious goal for the next five years will tell interviewers that you do not have an understanding of the industry or how people advance through it- as well as showing you have expectations your employer will not be able to meet. While it is also possible to have an answer that is not ambitious enough- this is usually not the side candidates fall on. Just be aware that you should also present yourself as someone who is looking to advance and improve instead of stay exactly where you are.
Be Relevant: The most important aspect of your answer to this interview question is how relevant it is. While you should never be dishonest or insincere- you should also select how you focus your future plans. If the job you are applying for is not within your goals- focus on what you plan to do within the job in the meantime. Think about how you can present yourself as benefiting the employer- even if you actually will not still be in the same job within five years. On the other hand- if you are potentially entering your chosen field- describe how you hope to advance and what area of the industry you hope to eventually work in. If hired- your interviewer may be able to help push you in that direction.
Think About it From the Interviewer’s Perspective: Finally- it may be beneficial for you to consider the question- “what do you expect to be doing in five years” as the interviewer would. Hiring someone is not just a risk- it is also an investment. They want to feel secure knowing you will still be helping their business flourish years down the line. You will never be hired if you make it clear that you hope to be gone within that time. Even if you will be gone- make it clear that you are committed to the job and will bring 100 percent. This is actually what they are trying to gauge based on your answer.
Sample ‘What Do You Expect to Be Doing in Five Years?’ Interview Answers
I’m interested in advancing in this field- so you can count on me still working with your company in five years. I have spent the last few years working on increasing my work experience and skill set as it related to this kind of work- so I’m excited to see how I can continue to grow in the next few years. I know that it is typical for committed to employees to spend two to three years on average before moving to the next position- and I certainly am committed to my work- so I really do anticipate being promoted before five years- assuming there is room for advancement.
I’m looking forward to the work I will be able to do in the next several years. I’ve found that the people I have met so far have been some of the kindest and most caring. I always prioritize collaboration and teamwork when working- and I know we are going to be able to create something amazing in the next few years if we work together.
Prepare yourself for answering such interview questions about your future plans.