Where do you see yourself in five years?

Where do you see yourself in five years?
The panel awaits an answer with bated breath.

In a job interview years and years ago I was asked this question. I’m sure you have been asked it as well.

Answers usually follow one of two paths:

“I’d love to get this job, prove myself, and in five years justify you promoting me into a position with much greater responsibility.”

Or:

“I’m looking for a company I can grow with. So within five years I hope to have become a strong candidate for your position, when you’ve been promoted!”

As others have stated, this question has become a staple amongst interviewers — whether for more higher-level positions or entry-level. I’ve compiled multiple sites for you. There’s advice here, here, here, and even a video response here, complete with awesome British accent, on how to best answer this question.

But let me just say this to interviewers and interviewees before you click on those links:

It should never be asked. Having said that…if you’re the interviewee and the person across the table drops that bomb on you, here’s what you should say:

“You know, the average employee tenure these days is only 4.4 years. And the average CEO’s is even shorter. I can’t tell you how the next five years are going to play out exactly. I only know how hard I work, the results I’ve gotten, and what others have said said about me through performance evaluations and LinkedIn testimonials. I’d love to say I want to find a place to settle in forever, and I’ve got an excellent track record. But there are just no guarantees in life.”

There you go. If the interviewer thinks this is insufficient, that’s on them. Move on.

The present employment situation is one where no one — I repeat, no one — can predict five years out. Employment tenure is dropping, that’s a fact. Companies make strategic changes…employees make career changes. It happens.

Don’t make promises you can’t be sure you’ll keep.

What do you think?

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