The job interview (Part 1) - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In the course of a professional life, one usually goes through several job interviews. "Why, of all people, are you the right person for the job" or "What made you decide to study? Some questions seem to be obligatory questions for HR professionals, which are constantly repeated, regardless of the industry and professional field. But these questions are often tough. In our series "The five most difficult questions in a job interview" we present the most frequent and also the most difficult questions.
Written on 9/24/20

"Where do you see yourself in five years?" - one of the most frequently asked questions, which regularly causes embarrassing pauses in conversation. Obviously not the best answers here would be "in your position" or "probably in another company". 

What exactly is the purpose of this question? HR managers are asking several questions at once: What are your general career goals and does the company suit you? Do your goals match the specific position advertised? Do you plan to stay with the company in the long term? Or do you have no plans for your professional future?

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive correct answer to this question. But there are some tips:

  • Tell the HR manager about the development you would like to make in the company over the next few years, i.e. what you bring with you, what you would like to learn, what potential you see in the position and explain how and why this position fits into your personal career.  

    For example: "In the next 2-3 years, I would like to become an expert in task area XY. I would like to apply my knowledge and skills, as well as continuously expand them. Furthermore, it is my goal to understand the challenges of this position and to contribute to achieving the set goals (together with my team)."
    You are welcome to list examples from your past, which show that you have already worked successfully in previous positions and have developed further in this position.  
    For example: "In my previous position, I was able to push forward projects XY within 5 years and make the processes more efficient."

  • Make sure that you formulate your goals in such a way that they fit the company and the advertised position. The greater the intersection with the job advertisement, the more promising.
  • Make it clear that you want to achieve your goals in the long term in this company but also concretely in this position. Avoid formulations that allow the conclusion that you only want to accept this position for a short period of time in order to make a greater career (in the worst case, outside the company)

Prepare yourself well by analyzing the company and the requirements of the job offer. 

The next article in our series "The five most difficult questions in the job interview" will deal with the question "What are your weaknesses?