How To Answer One Of The Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions: The 5-Year Plan

How to answer one of the most commonly asked interview questions: The 5-year plan

By: Jaime Petkanics, The Prepary  

How to answer commonly asked interview questions

When you’re interviewing, you’re probably trying to live in the present moment. Your focus is on getting this dream job and finding a way to ace the interview. However, one of the most commonly asked tough interview questions is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Why are they asking?

They’re asking this tough interview question because they want to know what your goals are and what motivates you. They want to see if what you’re trying to accomplish (and grow into) in the next five years can be done under their roof. When companies go through all the effort it takes to recruit someone, they’re genuinely hoping they stick around!

What’s a good answer?

This depends on the company, but in general I’d say a good answer shows ambition, focus, and includes future plans that can be followed through at the company you’re interviewing with.

Ambition is generally seen as a positive quality because it shows that you are hungry, eager, and are someone who works towards achievements.

When I say the answer should show focus, I mean that if you are interviewing for a public relations role, your five-year plan should be focused on the communications world. Avoid being all over the map. “I’d like to become an artist,” doesn’t really fit in with your story about being committed to public relations.

Focus also means emphasizing that you are willing to commit to doing the role at hand before thinking of what’s next. Your first mini goal on your way to the five-year plan should be excelling in the position at hand (don’t forget to mention that).

Make sure the five-year plan is one you could reasonably accomplish if you did get the job you are interviewing for. Good answers will take the job in front of you, and use it as a stepping stone to get where you want to go.

What about what I really want?

In a perfect world, I’d always say, “Tell the absolute truth. Tell them exactly where you want to be in five years, even if it’s crazy and unrelated!” If a company doesn’t hire you because they aren’t supportive of where you see yourself in five years, then it’s probably not the right company for you anyway. However, that is in the perfect world and sometimes you need to take a role that works for the moment, and adjust as time goes on.

If that’s the case, explaining that you’re excited to excel in the current role and then would like to continue growing within that team/company will be a solid answer. Sharing specifics and a lot of passion will make for a great answer that the interviewer will be happy to hear.

Have you gotten this question in an interview? What did you say? Tell us in the comments!

Jaime Petkanics

Jaime Petkanics is the writer behind, an online resource which provides advice on all aspects of the job search. A former recruiter, Jaime answers questions ranging from how to write a great resume, to how to answer interview questions, and everything in between.

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