Each week I am posting and replying to a career-related question. This week…
I find the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ to be one of the most difficult ones an interviewer can ask you.
When responding to this question, I would suggest to carefully prepare the answer ahead of the interview. This elusive question can pop up at either first stage, second stage, or both! You will need to thoroughly understand a typical career path in the company you are applying for. For instance, if you are interviewing for a position of an analyst at an investment bank, you would need to understand the career progression trajectory and the time frame it may take you to move on to an associate position and beyond. This is critical as it will both demonstrate your in-depth understanding of your target company and industry and show your interviewer that you are here for the long haul.
I would suggest not to downplay the length of time and effort it will take you to master the job you are applying for. Empoyers like to see candidates with realistic expectations and assumptions of what the job they are interviewing for will entail. You will need to demonstrate motivation and enthusiasm to become the best you can be in your current job before setting out to conquer higher levels within the company.
And one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is never ever to say that you are aiming for the position of your interviewer in five years’ time as it may threaten their position and prevent you from advancing to the next stage!