How To Answer Interview Questions - Ad Culture

How to Answer Interview Questions Like “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

7 min read | Jan 14, 2022
 Stephen Pedder- Ad Culture By Stephen Pedder

So, you have secured an interview for your dream job, congratulations! Now the next step is to impress your interviewer. 

But how can you make that happen? What do you need to prepare so everything goes smoothly? There are a few things you can do to get yourself ready.

Mental preparation is one. Sometimes, what will save an interview from being a complete disaster is a clear mind so make sure to avoid distractions before and during your interview: sleep early, eat a healthy meal, and turn off your phone—that goes for both in-person and virtual interviews!

You can also rehearse how to answer interview questions by anticipating what the interviewer might ask. One of the most common but tough job interview questions is “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

What Employers Really Mean When They Ask You This Question

 “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a common job interview question that’s tough to answer because it’s so vague. How can you see five years ahead when you’re not even sure what you’re going to eat for dinner?

Maybe you’re a fresh graduate and all you want is to simply get a job and health insurance. Or maybe you do have a five-year plan, you’re just not sure if that’s what your interviewers want to hear. When interviewers ask you this question, what do they really want to know? 

They Want To Know if You’re Looking for Short-Term or Long-Term Employment

The average time people stay at their jobs is approximately four years. Tenure is a lot shorter for tech companies

Considering how expensive it is to hire new employees, interviewers want to know if they’re hiring someone for the long term or someone who just wants a placeholder while they search for something else.

They Want To Get a Sense of Your Thought Process and How You Respond Under Pressure

Through this question, interviewers can gain insight into your goals and aspirations and if those are aligned with the company. Your answer will also demonstrate how you structure your thoughts and respond under pressure. 

The question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” also has other variations: “What are your goals within this position?” “What’s your dream job?” “What do you expect from this job?” among others. 

How Not to Answer Tough Interview Questions

Now that you know what employers really mean when they ask you this question, what’s the best way to respond? Here are some do’s and don’t’s so you can craft a smart answer and impress your interviewer. 

Let’s start with the don’t’s:

Cracking a Joke

Don’t say things like “I’m just trying to make it till Friday” or “Retired on a beach in the Caribbean” even if it feels true. Your interview is not the time to crack jokes but the time to show your enthusiasm about the role.

Cracking A Joke - Ad Culture

Displaying Uncertainty

Don’t be too casual with your answer by saying “I don’t know.” Your interviewer wants to see some direction and saying you have no idea flat out might be misinterpreted as a lack of ambition or motivation to succeed.

Saying You Want To Be Quickly Promoted

Showing too much ambition, on the other hand, is also not good. If you say “I want to be CEO” might come off as arrogant. It might also show your focus is too far down the road than the job in front of you.

How to Successfully Answer Tough Interview Questions

And now, here’s a guide on how to answer interview questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” the smart way:

Answer the Question for Yourself First

If you haven’t really thought about it, now’s the time to do so. Where do you actually see yourself in five years?

Contemplate this question ahead of time so you won’t have to fumble or make up a dishonest answer. Think about the “climax” of your story or where you want to end up in your career.

Do a bit of research on career paths related to your field of interest. Focus on your desired training and the skills you want to develop. Whether you’re interested in becoming a marketing manager, a social media manager, or a graphic designer, it’s important to understand where your career could take you.

It’s Okay if You Haven’t Figured It Out Yet

If you still don’t know where you see yourself in five years, that’s okay. It might be tempting to give an answer based on what you think your interviewer wants to hear, but if it doesn’t align with your truth, you’re going to have problems down the road.

Instead, focus on sharing your thoughts surrounding the question. For example, you can say something like, “I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be in the next five years, but I want to continue growing in the X field of work, honing my skills in X. It’s hard to say what kind of role that will develop into, but I want to seek growth opportunities where I can.”

This way, even though you haven’t figured out yet where you’ll be in the next five years, you’ve demonstrated that you understand the role you’re applying for and that you’re a continual learner and growth-seeker.

Your interviewer doesn’t need to know when you want to get married or where you want to settle down. Sharing something too personal might backfire.

Be Realistic

Remember to focus on goals that can be accomplished in the next five years. Focus on what skills you want to learn and the experiences you want to gain to move a level or two higher within the company. This gives your interviewer a sense that you’re thinking of growing hand-in-hand with the company. 

Back-Up Your Statement

Avoid saying something you can’t back up. For example, if you say you want to be a project manager, make sure to explain why. 

If you can’t articulate your reasons, it might seem like you’re not presenting your authentic self which is a red flag to hiring managers. The “why” usually spells the difference between candidates who are really interested in management and people who are just saying it because it makes them sound competent.

Job Interview Into A Job Offer - Ad Culture

Turn Your Job Interview Into a Job Offer

By anticipating and practicing how to answer interview questions, you have a better chance of successfully turning your job interview into a job offer.

If you’re looking for a company in the field of marketing, communications, or advertising that can help develop your skills further, let Ad Culture be your bridge. We help talented individuals find the company of their dreams. Contact us today or visit our website to learn more.

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