One of the more tricky questions candidates are asked at job interviews is about their 5 year plan. I have interviewed many people who all of a sudden pause and struggle when asked this, but it is actually a question that you should embrace. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re in that situation.
Those of you that regularly read my blogs will know that there are two things I always say in relation to ambition. The first is that ambitious companies look for like-minded individuals; the second is that if you’re standing still you’re going backwards. So when you’re asked where you see yourself in 5 years’ time, don’t be afraid to aim high. If you see yourself in a managerial role, say it. No manager worth their salt will think you are a threat or getting too big for your boots. The key is to back it up – don’t just tell them where you want to be, tell them how you’ll get there.
Of course ambition has to be related to the job you are applying for. As I touch on in the video below, when I’m interviewing someone for a mid-level recruitment role, I don’t want them to say their aim is to be a vet in 5 years! Whatever you say must relate to the job and company. Even if you are on a career journey and see yourself doing something completely different – do you really want to share this at an interview?
Remember where you are
It is as important as anything that you remember your primary goal – to get this job. So when you start your answer, emphasise how you want to completely master the role you are currently going for and how you want to add value to this specific company. Also state which areas of this job you especially like and what you want to take with you even as you move upwards. For example you may be interviewing for a Marketing Executive role, and in 5 years want to be a Marketing Director. Tell the interviewer which bit of the Executive role you most enjoy and would like to still have a hand in even if you got promoted.
Never mention the money
It may seem obvious, but I have genuinely interviewed people before who said in 5 years they wanted to be earning X amount. This is generally the wrong direction to take the interview in. Of course money is the reason we all go to work, but by answering in this manner you make yourself seem totally fixated on this. Admittedly there are some jobs – namely sales related ones – where hiring managers are actively looking for hungry people that want to maximise their earning potential. But even when I recruit for these positions I still want to see people aiming for professional development rather than just financial.
Once you’ve answered this question, why not ask it? Ask the interviewer what the business goals are for the next 5 years. This shows you have a genuine interest in the development of the company, and the vision managers have for it.