I was pondering this common job interview question yesterday.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Before I really thought deeply about it, I hated this question. It’s a difficult one to answer because we can never truly see where we’ll be in five years. Maybe we can see where we’d like to be, but it’s impossible to make a prediction that’s anywhere near accurate. Who’s to say that we won’t be on a totally different career path in five years?
I think the reason employers ask this question is to make sure candidates have concrete goals and aspirations. Sure, it’s all well and good to say that in five years, you see yourself in a managerial role. But the other, unspoken part of the question is how will you get there? What are the concrete steps you’ll take to actualize that goal? That’s really what they want to hear.
Now I’m going to be thinking about my answer to that question a lot more seriously. I want to become some kind of editor or work with words in some capacity. I want to become a published author. How am I planning to get there? Those are things that I can’t answer right now because I have yet to come up with good answers.
The “five years” question may be complex and hard to answer, but it’s worth it if you actually sit down and think about it for awhile. Don’t just answer this question simply to prepare for and get through a job interview. Answer it to come up with a genuine plan for yourself. It helps to look into the future and make even just a basic plan – and to rethink and retool your answer from time to time.