How to answer the question: ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’

Most interviewer’s won’t expect you to have a specific, step-by-step response for the ‘Where do you see yourself…’ question. Instead, they generally want to know one thing: ‘Does this role fit into your longer-term career goals?’ Of course, if you really do view the role for which you’re interviewing as just a random and unrelated step on your career path, then perhaps it’s time to give some serious thought to your search strategy as well as your professional goals. Hopefully though, the position you applied for plays a clear role in your bigger plan. So how can you communicate that to an interviewer? Read on to find out! This feature was originally published on

Don’t get hung up on the title

Nobody is expecting that you’ll have your five-years-from-now title, department name, or team size all planned out and ready to go. What an interviewer will want to hear is how you see yourself growing not just as a professional, but also how you see yourself growing in this particular role at this particular company.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a Communications Associate position, here are a few things you may imagine for yourself five years down the road:

Connect the dots for the interviewer

If, when explaining your five year plan, you don’t use language that clearly signals to an interviewer that you hope to still be with the company (or at least connected to the company in a significant way), then you’re missing the mark. Be sure to communicate the following in order to show your interviewer that this is a role and a company in which you plan to really plant some roots and grow:

Pro tip: If you do go down a path of naming specific departments in which you’d like to end up five years from now, be sure that these departments actually exist at the company with which you’re interviewing.

Don’t be a threat 

If the person interviewing you would be a supervisor should you land the job, the last thing you want to do is get them thinking that if hired, you’d be gunning for their position and their ultimate departure from the organization. 

Interviewing with the head of the department? Don’t mention your plan for becoming the next department head. Interviewing for a role on a large team? Don’t talk about your long-term ideas for restructuring or downsizing. You get the idea. 

About the author: Alexis Perrotta is an editor, writer and communications professional for As a lifelong nonprofit professional with nearly 18 years of experience, she’s eager to offer job seekers, game-changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social impact ‘lifestyle’ advice. 

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