General Question

robinmichelle's avatar

When you are asked, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?", what is the best way to answer? With honesty? Or what the recuirter wants to hear?

Asked by robinmichelle (103points) April 21st, 2011

The problem I have when I am asked this question is that where I want to be in 5 years can be completely different than what the recruiter wants to hear. What is an appropriate answer to this question? Does answering honestly throw you out of the running?

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26 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I hate that question! I think the best way to answer it is the most general terms possible. Something like, “I hope to always be learning new things, growing professionally and personally.” So cheesy, but what are you supposed to say? “In five years, I want your job.”, “Working for a better company than this.”, “Rich and retired.”, “A stay-at-home mother.”? Ugh.

takeachance's avatar

I personally think the best answer for ‘Where do you think you will be in 5 years?’ is alive, going strong. After having close friends and family members dying I think in 5 years I would love to still be alive and loving life as a 20 year old :)

JLeslie's avatar

Answer what they want to hear.

seazen_'s avatar

Do your homework about the company and project realistically in terms of position – just not in his place, if that is the case. Say – project manager of such and such – in other words – what @JLeslie said.

No-one remembers what you said in an interview once you’re hired – which is the point, right?

marinelife's avatar

I would not answer this question with the truth if the truth does not have you at that company climbing the ladder.

tedd's avatar

What @JLeslie said. Lie if you have to, they would do it to you in a heart beat.

hug_of_war's avatar

One thing is advancement. They want to see you have aspirations and ambitions. “I hope to have moved into a more supervisory position” or “I plan on being a project lead” or whatever. No one gives a damn what you’ll be doing in your personal life, they want to discern if this is just a temporary gig for you or if you’ll be hanging around for a while. I’m shocked people still don’t realize how to answer this question.

diavolobella's avatar

Business Week’s answer to this was one of the best I’ve ever seen:

“I intend to be happy and productive five years from now, working at a job I love in a company that values my talents”

john65pennington's avatar

In five years from now, I see myself in the best Hoveround money can buy.

It will have blue lights and a siren on it and I will be enforcing wheelchair traffic laws at CNH…..Cops Nursing Home.

plethora's avatar

I like best the Business Week answer from @diavolobella.

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MilkyWay's avatar

Simply “I don’t know.”

Carly's avatar

You can say, I see myself become much more mature and responsible. At least thats always the case for me.

YoBob's avatar

With any luck, simi-retired and keeping myself occupied with the various arcane arts that I practice.

CaptainHarley's avatar

In the unlikely event I will ever interview for another job, and this question is asked of me, I’ll just say that I expect to be dead within the next five years or so, and let them deal wid it! LOL!

Nullo's avatar

Consider: if you answer with what the recruiter wants to hear (“Working hard for Cogsley’s Cogs, of course!”, you very well may find yourself there.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The last time someone asked me this I said “I will be your manager”. They were not impressed.

They are probably even less impressed now (five years later) as I am their manager.

dxs's avatar

Say something like “Wherever my travels manage to take me.”

Blueroses's avatar

I always thought of this question as being a sneaky way of extracting personal information the interviewer isn’t allowed to ask directly. People who are unprepared for this question may answer “Getting married and starting a family”... “Traveling with my church mission group”...“Finishing my degree in basketweaving”...etc

It’s best to stick with a generic “Contributing to the success of this company” even if the company is McDonalds and you have no intention of being there in 5 years.

Cruiser's avatar

I always answered signing your paycheck. Got great responses with that one! lol!

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WasCy's avatar

I once responded honestly on an employee “self-evaluation” form if I had any particular goals. Since the form didn’t ask about “career” goals, I responded that I’d like to sail singlehanded across the Atlantic someday. (I knew I was going against what was actually being requested, but since I already had the job I didn’t think the response would hurt.)

I got kidded about it by management for years afterward (even those who hadn’t been on distribution for my first review, since I was so low-level at the time), but they all knew who I was because of that response, and it never seemed to weigh negatively against me.

I also answered the “How do you see yourself in x years?” also honestly (and succinctly) as “Improving.”

Part of the test of this question is to see what kind of person you are: are you an ass-kissing sycophant who tells the recruiter what they want to hear? (every company needs a fair number of these drones, so it’s not really dishonorable), or are you a steely-eyed climber? (which every company desperately needs, but not at every position and level) or are you creative, intelligent, personable and able to think on your feet to give an “acceptable” answer that is also honest? (the kind no company can have enough of). Be the latter. You can develop the steely-eyed determination later if you really want to, but being personable and intelligent – and displaying that with a certain modesty and flair – will get you to the second interview.

diavolobella's avatar

Worst answer: “In five years I hope to be promoted to Assistant Crack Whore lol

Nullo's avatar

“Professional hitman. If I’m lucky, I’ll earn triple what you do.”

robinmichelle's avatar

Thanks you guys! Your answers are very thought-provoking and funny! This is great information.

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