Unless you have your future all mapped out, this annoying interview or even networking event question can be difficult to answer. These strategies for answering can help you put your best foot forward for a new job or future opportunity.
Besides asking yourself this profound question — difficult as it is to predict what will happen in the next half decade — the Harvard Business Review recommends you focus on what you hope to learn, rather than a specific position or title.
Another strategy is to broaden the question to reinforce what you want the interviewer to know about you:
Enter the interview knowing what three things you want the interviewer to know about you. Use every question, not just this one, to get those messages across. You can also shorten the timeframe of the question by saying something like, "I don't know where I'll be in five years, but within a year, I hope to land several high-profile clients." You can also use the opportunity to express what excites you most about the job in question. "In any competitive environment, the job is going to go to someone who is genuinely interested and can articulate their interest," says Butler.
Above all, don't fake it or make up ambitious goals if they don't really reflect what you want. The goal for both interviewer and interviewee is to find a great job fit, for now and perhaps even five years down the road.
More best practices for answering this question can be found in the article linked below, or check out our full coverage of preparing for and acing interviews. How would you answer this question? Photo by David Davies
Where Will You Be in Five Years? [Harvard Business Review]