Start as a career starter in your own dream industry and rise to the rank of manager in a few years – this may be the ideal for some people. But not every job seeker has a sophisticated plan of how they want to shape their future.
It becomes all the more difficult when the question “Where do you see yourself in five years” comes up in the job interview. What to do: be honest and admit that you have absolutely no idea - or invent a sophisticated career plan that has nothing to do with reality? Career expert Ute Bölke reveals what HR managers are aiming for with this question - and how to answer it correctly if you don't have an answer.
The good news first: According to Bölke, HR managers do not expect a specific answer as to where the applicant is exactly in March 2027. Nevertheless, the question "Where do you see yourself in five years" should not leave you speechless. As a result, the HR manager can see very quickly "whether the applicant is thinking outside the box and is thinking about their own future and development," explains the careers consultant.
So it doesn't have to be the top position in five years. Further development in certain specialist areas can also be a goal. The following questions can help you as an applicant in your search for an answer:
"The route is the goal. It's a good idea to do some thinking beforehand and compare your growth goals with the values of the company and the job," explains the expert.
In general, it is not welcomed when applicants are too committed with their answers - along the lines of "trainee today, managing director tomorrow" or "in five years I'll be sitting in your chair". Of course, you shouldn't say that you received a rejection from your dream company before the interview.
As a possible answer, Bölke gives the following two examples:
“I would first like to familiarize myself with your company and the position. Since this is a position of trust (assistant), I assume a long-term cooperation. Since I'm not familiar with the internal situation, I'm sure you can tell me better what further development opportunities there are in the short and medium term. My interests in IT and project management are certainly very helpful. I am also interested in further qualifications.”
“I can't tell you where I am in March 2027. But my previous career has shown that I have always developed further. This certainly also depends on your company and culture. What experience do you have with goal-oriented employees?”
The applicant does not need to know which exact position he wants to hold in five years. If you are ambitious and show with your answer that you have thought about your own future and development, you have already done a lot right.
CV, certificates, buzzwords. Here you will find even more useful application tips:
This article was first published in March 2022.