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Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 5 clever answers

Now Tacheles: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" The question is one of the classic in job interviews. Nevertheless, it should be clear to everyone: No HR manager expects an exact description of what you will actually be doing in five years' time. The answer can only be guesswork, an expression of silent hope - or a larger career plan. We'll tell you why HR managers ask this question in the interview at all, what's behind it and give you specific tips, examples and formulations on how you can answer it convincingly and professionally ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Why the question: where do you see yourself in 5 years?

HR managers ask the applicant question because they want to find out something about your career goals and whether the current position you are applying for fits into this professional master plan. Specifically, there are always three motives behind the question "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

  1. What are your goals?
    Determination is a strong indicator for future high performers. In addition, candidates who pursue specific goals are more focused and motivated.
  2. Are you a good fit for the company?
    Your planned development should align with the company's goals. The greater the overlap, the more promising and harmonious the collaboration.
  3. Do you want to make a long-term commitment?
    Of course, every HR manager would like to avoid having to fill the position again in two to three years. Job hoppers and opportunists who only look at the salary are out of the question.

Your career plan should never sound like a concrete manifesto. Some flexibility and freedom of development should remain visible. But when asked, HR decision-makers also want to see in which direction you are headed: for example, are you aiming for a specialist career or a management career?

In particular, HOW you view your professional developmentHR professionals are interested in whether you are actively shaping your career or rather hoping that it will somehow result. The aim is to find employees who are on the one hand motivated by themselves ("intrinsically"), but who are also satisfied with their employer in the long term and therefore stay for a long time.

Please never answer spontaneously!

To the applicant question "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" There are now numerous variations, some of which sound similar:

  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • How do you define success?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What does the perfect job look like for you?
  • Where do you want to be in 3 years?
  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?

No matter what question you get asked: Ultimately, it is always about your career prospects, your motivation and potential loyalty.

Precisely because the question sounds so simple, the temptation is great to answer it spontaneously and loosely away from the liver. Above all, honestly ... huge mistakes! The application question, where do you see yourself in 5 years, is tricky and can become a job killer. If you only have your own perspective and career in mind when answering, you are wasting numerous opportunities. The dose makes the poison here too: Too much openness and honesty - and you're out.

Talk about development goals

Look at the question from the perspective of the HR manager: They want to hire someone who is competent and talented, but also really hot for the job. Someone who perceives the advertised position as a real career step and opportunity and hangs in accordingly. Even in five years.

Any answer that is suspicious after intermediate step, Interim solution or even a compromise, it kicks you out. Perhaps you have already explained why you want this job and what you find so interesting and challenging about it. But it just has to be part of your long-term master plan, otherwise the supposed motivation will quickly turn into a myth.

The 4 elements of a professional answer

The perfect answer to the question always consists of these four elements:

  • development
    Five years is a long time. Nobody can know what is going to happen. What is certain, however, is that you can develop yourself further along the way. Personally and professionally. Those who show that their thinking is geared towards development will score points.
  • perspective
    A five-year plan already includes a broad look into the future. However, your goals and development stages should not immediately reach their limits after five years. Otherwise you suggest a future job change. Rather, show that your motivation is long-term. And that you expect to stay with the company for a few more years. Your interests and professional goals should be designed in such a way that you develop WITH and IN the company.
  • accordance
    Find out about the company's history, values ​​and goals. Is it a particularly family-friendly, socially committed or internationally expanding employer? The more closely your ideas match, the more convincing your answers will be. Just don't construct anything or lie. Experienced HR managers see through this immediately.
  • joy
    When answering the applicant question, show a little enthusiasm for the job currently on offer - because it will take you an important step further. Demonstrate the firm will to absolutely want to master the challenges that lie ahead. It is not just the "foot in the door", please.

Hardly any HR manager hires anyonewho indirectly admits that he will want to do another job at another company in five years. Another job may still be possible - after all, you want to develop. But the one now aimed at should play a central and, above all, different role than that of the stirrup holder. It also doesn't help the recruiter's career if they have to fill the same position every few years because their promising talents keep dropping and dropping out.

TIP: Never answer too specifically

Always stay general. The answer should remain so general and interpretable that you keep your options open. Anyone who becomes too specific reduces the potential overlap with the employer's ideas. On the other hand, if you remain nebulous here and there, you can always answer critical questions: “I may have expressed myself incorrectly. I meant…"

Where do you see yourself in five years: 5 answers

Apart from the fact that you should definitely ask yourself the question about career orientation, there are various options how you can answer it. Here are 5 good answers as an example:

Answer 1: leadership career

My current goal is to find a company in which I can develop myself professionally and personally. I would like to face as different challenges as possible. My goal is to take on more and more management and personnel responsibility over the next few years and to pursue more strategic goals in the process. I think it works particularly well when I work for an organization that is developing itself. This is definitely the case with your company.

As you can see, the answer is clearly geared towards a leadership career. But that's perfectly legitimate. It is crucial that the answer sounds motivated, company-oriented, focused - but without being specifically committed.

Answer 2: Specialized career

I would like to continuously expand my skills and specialist knowledge and at the same time implement exciting projects. I would like to work for a company that gives me the opportunity to work with colleagues from whom I can learn a lot. I know that your company has some of the most brilliant people in the industry - and I would be delighted to be part of this team and develop my career here.

Admittedly, this candidate does not say exactly where he wants to be in five years - but he does say in which direction he wants to develop: technically and implicitly more as a specialist (with a tendency to be a perfectionist). In most cases that is enough as an answer.

Answer 3: Cultural Fit

First of all, I want to develop myself professionally. In the next five years I want to learn a lot and, hopefully, reach a significantly higher level. I also share your company's values. I find it extremely exciting, on the one hand, to improve profitability, but at the same time to do something meaningful and to achieve good. An example: Your company has been campaigning for food banks in the city for years. If I can actively support you in gaining even greater financial resources and more helpers over the next five years, that would make me proud.

If the company is socially committed, you can collect numerous plus points with this answer. On top of that, you create a direct connection between the values ​​of the company and your work. This creates a so-called “cultural fit” between employer and applicant. Or as they say colloquially: the chemistry is right.

Answer 4: Identification

A lot can happen in five years. However, I hope that I'll still be here and have passed through some important stations. First of all, I would like to successfully complete the trainee program. Then take the next career steps step by step, learn a lot and develop personally as well as make a real contribution and added value. I can well imagine - if everything goes well - that we will represent the company more externally in the next five years: at trade fairs, congresses, maybe even in lectures and presentations. Anyway, I would enjoy that.

With the answer, you not only demonstrate a high level of identification with the employer, but also express modesty and a high willingness to learn. You briefly outline a development process - without immediately expecting too much. This signals healthy realism, paired with motivation and high loyalty to the employer. Conservative and owner-managed companies in particular find this loyalty and long-term loyalty perspective extremely attractive to applicants.

Answer 5: progress

In five years, I still want to work for this company - but on a larger scale. I know that your industry and the markets in which you are active are currently expanding massively internationally. Competitors are crowding into Latin America, Asia and Africa. I would like to turn this wheel. In five years' time, I see myself and my colleagues toasting new market shares that we have gained with numerous innovations. At least that would be my dream - which I like to work hard for.

The answer is particularly suitable for companies in a highly competitive environment. You emphasize your ambition and at the same time your willingness to make great efforts to further develop the products or services and to contribute to innovations. Even more: you show empathy. You are ready to put yourself in the employer's shoes and at the same time develop great goals and solutions for them. Class! Real top performers reveal themselves in this way.

Special case: career change

A special case occurs when the position you are applying for does not match your previous career at all. For example, if you previously worked in a completely different industry or pursued a completely different career. In short: if it is not just about a job change, but a professional career change. In this case, you must clearly and credibly explain the reasons for this step. Cloudy statements of motivation are no longer enough. In that case, you should speak honestly about your new master plan, your new career goals and why you are now pursuing them with full passion.

It would be absolutely fatal in this situationIf you stammer, motto: “Yes, hm, that's a good question ... Well, where do I want to be in five years? Uh ... “In this situation, the answer has to be straight out of the gun and to the point. Because you have reoriented yourself BEFORE, refocused and do not try to do it in conversation. Ultimately, this applies to all answers to this applicant question: Prepare yourself thoroughly before the interview and formulate your answer as briefly as possible. That makes it all the more convincing.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years: just no humor!

A brisk saying can loosen up the mood in the interview. But the fun can easily backfire on this question. When asked, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?", Comments and humor are rather inappropriate for this caliber:

  • "In five years, I'll be the CEO here."
  • "In five years I was employee of the year five times."
  • "In five years we have whipped up the store and went public."
  • "In five years I'll be a millionaire."

All of these empty phrases sound silly and affected. Moreover, they are evasive and do not answer the question. If you're already joking, there are much better opportunities in the job interview.

[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]

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