Where do you want to be in next 5 years? - Tough Interview Question

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? – Fresher Interview Question

You are just out of college or in the first few years of your career. You have applied for a fresher position or those positions which require 2-3 years of experience. When you appear for your interview, you get a chance to express yourself freely with questions about your resume. If the conversation goes well, you may come across questions like, “why are you the best person for this job?”. If you have come this far, it is a sign that the interviewer is interested in you. It is in such situations that you will generally come across this interesting fresher interview question – Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

This question is a tough interview question if you look at it. Most of the interview candidates start blabbering random things or sound dreamy about their future. Some of them feel anxious. For many interviewees, this question triggers many questions in their minds. They may think,

Do I really need to have a 5-year goal or vision for myself right now? What will the interviewer feel if I don’t have a clear picture of myself 5 years down the line? What should I say that may impress the interviewer?

If you think about it, this question is similar to the common interview question, “What are your career goals?” However, this question is different in 2 ways.

1. It has a specific timeline and it is more about your near-term career vision.

2. This question is asked more frequently to especially freshers.

So let us first understand why interviewers even want to ask this question.

Why do interviewers ask “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”

This question is generally asked to you by the interviewer after he understands your skills and experience. He may consider you worthy of the job position.

The interviewer wants to know what you have in your mind in these initial days of your career. He wants to explore your desires and dreams in this initial professional journey. They want to know your natural inclination and your nature. They want to see how motivated and ambitious you are. Finally, they want to understand if they would be in a good position to fulfill your ambition.

Let us look into the details of what the interviewers want to know.

1. Your assumptions about their company or the field of your job position

All of us have many assumptions about various companies that we desire to work for. We also have our assumptions for what the job will entail us to do and what will be its future prospects. The interviewers need to realize that your objectives fit with the position they’re providing.

For instance, assuming you’re applying for a position in sales and you plan to do managerial roles in the same field, you’ll be considered to be a good fit. But, in the event that you’re planning to be in product management in the next five years, it may be considered a bit irrelevant for the employer. This may hamper your chance to earn the role.

2. Do you plan to stick around for a while in the role

Hiring is an expensive and time-consuming activity for corporates. Hiring one candidate requires hours of the HR manager’s time. Costs of advertising, background checks, IT equipment, employee onboarding/training, and sometimes even the joining bonus. This can go in tens of thousand rupees per employee in India and is around 15000 dollars in USA.

Naturally, the interviewer is looking for a candidate who genuinely wants to stick for a while. They will definitely respect your ambitions but it is also necessary for them to judge if you may be quitting the job in the near future for common reasons like salary hikes. They would minutely trace hints about this in your answer.

3. Your areas of interest

They want to know if areas of your real interests. You may try to show genuine interest in the job and what it has in it for you. But are you truly interested in what it takes to excel in the job? Are you naturally vying for the work that will come your way?

They will often try to understand your say-to-do ratio here. It is quite possible that even you may have misled yourself into believing that you will like to do the work that the job entails.

How to answer this fresher interview question?

To prepare thoroughly for this question, you need to work on your clarity about your future goals. While framing your response, make sure to minutely observe and understand the work position.

Consider the abilities and attributes necessary for the role, that you currently possess and might want to acquire insight in the future. It will be useful to specifically understand the things that interest you in working for the position. It also helps you in gathering knowledge about the abilities you need to thrive over the course of five years. 

There is ample scope for a candidate to excel in a job interview which he/she can convincingly talk about while being very reasonable about his/her future possibilities. For instance, being a fresher, if you claim to sit in the place of the interviewer in the next five years, it may come across as arrogance or overconfidence.

Try and sound more excited about the skills you are expecting to inculcate in the next 5 years, which would enhance your ability to deliver the desired results. You can talk about your aspects of promotion too but not by they need to be in sync with the position offered. Sounding a bit ambiguous and amateur is fine. It may be naturally expected too. But avoid stretching it too much.

Let’s explore some ways of answering this question. 

Sample answers for “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”

“In the next five years, I want to be leading a team of 5 at least. I’ve read about your fast paced culture on your site, and I feel motivated to perform. In addition to the fact that I would become an expert in my current role, I would also be on the road to learn the skills needed to successfully lead teams. If you have plans to launch your operations abroad, I would love to do my best in make it a success. Being a representative of your organisation, I believe my superior people skills would help me ra. I also plan to undergo a course of data analytics which would make me additionally capable of handling company statistics and policies.” 

You want to let the recruiters know that you seek growth. You are ready for challenges. Show that your own interests are in line with the organization’s objectives.

Now let us dive into an answer which is a little more specific to the field of human resources role.

“The most interesting aspect of working in Human Resource role is when I get the opportunity to plan and execute developmental programmes to help my colleagues learn and master their fields. Hence in the next five years, I want to be a manager in learning and improvement, who’s capable of managing such programmes himself.

In the field like this, I’ll motivated prepare myself to work with individuals or in teams to recognize and also help them recognise their true potential and areas of interest. This would help me in guiding them into specific trainings. I also wish to play a strong role in the recruitment process for the company.

I feel that it will be an interesting opportunity to understand people and their motivations while finding the right fits for the organization.”

Use this question as an opportunity to let the interviewers know that you are willing to work on the skills which are missing in your resume. Express your desire for personal development and how it can benefit the company. Remember not to sound overconfident or overqualified for the concerned role. Let’s see how.

“I am someone who will enjoy handling drafting work and client counselling. I know how important it is to have this experience to work in a legal firm, which reflects in the internships I had done. Additionally, I always had a personal dream to pursue and earn a certificate in corporate governance which will boost my skills further.

After completing this course , I would aim towards taking up managerial responsibilities beside my legal work. I’m really excited  for the chance I’m getting to work with senior lawyers and put myself to mastering new abilities.

My CV shows the quantity and quality of projects I have worked on. In these five years to come, I would also want to write book on Corporate Law as my side hustle while working and learning in your esteemed organization.” 

Tips to effectively answer this fresher interview question

Let’s now recap a few essential do’s and don’ts which we need to keep in mind while answering this question successfully.

1. Never try sounding unreasonable while answering the question. It’s always recommended to speak highly about yourself while sitting in an interview but do not venture into areas you don’t have knowledge about. If they counter-question you about your future plans and you look clueless, it’ll immediately result in a negative impression.

2. Stick to the point and be brief. Don’t stray away too much. If your answer seems to run in too many directions, you will face more questions. This can confuse you and also test your vocabulary. Moreover, the interviewer may see lack of maturity in you.

3. Try discussing long-term ambitions keeping the company at the center. Your interests should show your focus to enhance your job-related skills. This is generally taken as a positive sign as it shows a natural alignment between what is on offer with the role and your expectations.

4. Prepare well for your answer however avoid memorizing. Memorized answers come as typical or expected answers to the interviewers. They also seem insincere. When you talk naturally remembering the key points to cover, it comes across as a natural response. It keeps you relaxed because the pressure of remembering during a key moment can sometimes deceive your memory.

5. Even if you haven’t prepared this question, don’t sit cluelessly. Talk about whatever logical points that come to your mind. Avoid building an impression that you can’t tackle tricky situations.

6. Based on your experience during your education and your internships or previous jobs, try to think about something uniquely positioned goal in your 5-year vision. This sets you apart from other candidates. It also shows how you are moving methodically towards your long-term goals.

7. Being practical and humble is a big plus. Sounding irrelevant, defocused, overconfident or arrogant is a total turnoff for the interviewer.

You can see now that even if this question comes towards the middle or end of an interview, it is important to prepare for this. You can also explore the following articles which are related to this question.

1. What do you know about our company?

2. Why are you the best person for this job?

3. Why should we hire you?

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