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What do you say to “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

You know that interview question where they ask what you want to be doing 5 years from now? What do you say?

We hear a lot of “I don’t know.” That’s cool, we get it – you’re looking for your first “real” job now, and 5 years seems like a long time away. With no experience under your belt, and no definitive plan for how you are going to get your corner office, you don’t know how to answer that question.

Here’s what the employer is thinking when you say “I don’t know.”

  • Are we just a stepping-stone for them?
  • What’s going to motivate them to do well in this role?
  • What makes them think they are going to like this job?
  • They obviously don’t plan on staying with us long enough to work their way up. 

Doubt. That’s what that is. Do you want to go into an interview and have the interviewer doubt your abilities to do the job because you haven’t dedicated your life to laying out your career path? No, of course you don’t.

I’m not saying make it up, but have an answer based on what you like and don’t like now. If you are wrong and you decide 5 years from now that you don’t want to be Team Leader at McDonalds anymore, you want to do something more corporate… no one is going to hunt you down and say, “When I interviewed you 5 years ago to be a Cashier, that is not what you said you wanted to be doing.”

It is important to find a job that makes you happy. It helps if you are naturally aligned to be successful and on route to reaching a bigger goal. Having a goal doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind in a few years if you are off the mark when you set it. You can tinker with it if you were a little wrong, or overhaul if you were way off. Just have something bigger to work towards and challenge yourself!


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