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How do you answer "Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, etc. years?"

I'm not really sure how to answer this question without hurting my chances of getting hired. I plan on returning to school and getting my bachelor's degree. I'm not sure what I will be getting my bachelor's in.

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Clarissa’s Answer

Focus on the skills you want and your professional goals. You don’t need to go into details and tell them specific job titles or a time frame. It’s really just asking to get an idea that your motivated for the position and asking who you want to be. So I if for example I was an engineer and my career aspirations is to lead engineering projects but I was interviewing for an entry level position I would say something like in “5 years, I want to gain exposure to project management and be able to support my team with leadership skills that I’ve gained.”

Edit: Adding in its also a great opportunity to show you understand the role you e applied for by saying how it fits into your plan and what skills that job will give you.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! P.S. I think that it's so cool that you're a geological engineer! Genevieve
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Joanna’s Answer

I don't think this question means you must have concrete goals outlined for where you see yourself in 5, 10 years. Most people do not have this concisely planned out. The employer is more so interested to see if you have ambition to grow, learn and expand your career over time, and ideally, this company you're interviewing with will factor into that plan.

If the role you're interviewing for fits into the path you're currently interested in exploring and you are interested in seeing how it can fit into your career development, you can give an honest answer of, "While I don't know exactly where I see myself in five years, I am eager to gain skills or continue to gain skills (whatever might be the case for your scenario) in XYZ to develop a strong understanding of XYZ or build a career in XYZ." You can mention that this specific role at this company will offer you the opportunity to dive into XYZ and provide you with the foundation to develop a role in XYZ field. If you're saying you are new to a specific field that this company will offer, you can stress your interest in this area and why, and how you hope to build this into a robust and strong career path in the years to come.
Thank you comment icon Great advice Johanna! Thanks! :-p Genevieve
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Raegan’s Answer

This question always made me nervous, partially because I wasn't sure where I would be in 5, 10, and so on.
From my experience, it always looks good (even if you aren't sure you will do it) to mention that you're going to get your master's, Ph.D., or any professional degree. This helps them see that you are always looking to advance your education. I've always been a pre-med student, and I've always been honest that I planned to attend medical school at some point.

It also helps to mention competencies like building a successful team, working with others and leadership, etc.

For example, if I were applying for a Molecular Technologist job at X Lab and was asked this question, I might say something like:

In 5 years, I see myself in medical school and studying research in pathology. In 10 years, I can see myself as a practicing Pathologist developing novel treatments for Covid-19. This Molecular Technologist position at X Lab would not only utilize my skills, but I would learn new skills that can be applied to my future. For instance, as a Molecular Technologist, I would become an expert in qPCR analysis, which is widely used in the science community to find cures, and treatments and gain a better understanding of what is happening in the human body.
(Optional add-on)- In 10 years, I could see myself returning and becoming one of the physicians at X Lab.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! I appreciate your use of examples. Good luck on your career path! Genevieve
Thank you comment icon You're welcome! Thank you so much! Good luck to you as well! If you have any more questions or want to talk about feel free to reach out. Raegan Williams
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Hannah’s Answer

It's not necessarily a bad thing to not have a 5-year plan. Your answer should describe what goals you aim to accomplish in getting your degree (even if you don't know what you want your degree to be in). You can highlight some of your goals, passions, skills, and hobbies and how your five year plan is to follow your strengths and continuously grow. Additionally, speaking to your values and how those values guide you in your goal setting. If there are specific details within the job description that appeal to you, use these to explain how they will help you determine your strengths and guide you towards selecting a degree.

Hannah recommends the following next steps:

Review job descriptions for details that appeal to you, and note why they appeal to you.
List what skills you have and what skills you want to strengthen.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Hannah! Genevieve
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Kim’s Answer

I've always researched the company, and identified advancements within the company. For example, when I interviewed for a Customer Service position with an Electric Company, I found that they did a lot of community outreach on electricity safety and felt that would be a path I'd be interested in. I always try to mention a role in training new hires as well.

I keep it focused on the company I'm applying for, even if I truly have no intentions of staying with that company for that long. They spend a lot of money hiring and training me, I don't want them to look at it as a bad investment. Is it a lie? Sure. Do "they" lie to us? Yup. "Oh, yea, there's never any problem getting time off, just let us know what you need. . . ." It's not a contract.
Thank you comment icon Thanks again Kim!!! :-) Genevieve
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Luke’s Answer

I'm surprised I've never been asked this question in an interview. Of course it depends on the company you're interviewing with. But considering you plan to return to school to get your bachelor's degree (4-year degree), it might make sense to say that you plan graduate and be a full year into your professional career learning about xyz and advancing your skills in abc field.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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Cori’s Answer

It is recommended to focus this question on what you are really looking for for example if you have a career plan or if you see yourself as a leader in the future or if you are looking for a long-term opportunity with them.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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Bing’s Answer

Genevieve, do not worry about hurting your job chances by answering in a "wrong" way. Be honest with yourself and your employer. Take time to sit with your thoughts and come up with an answer you believe in, and that inspires you to be the best possible version of yourself. Then, you will attract the kind of employers who believe what you believe, and you will be happier and more successful for it.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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James’s Answer

What most employers like to see is that there is a progressing the longer you look ahead. While it might seem obvious to go for "big lofty goals", something to also consider is to make some mention of how to plan to obtain those goals. It looks okay to an employer that you plan on going for X degree, and trying to be at Y position in so many years, but you need to dive deeper and offer some ideas on how to plan on getting to those goals.

The reason being that it shows to the employer you have put more thought into your 5/10 year plan than just making statements on where you want to be.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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Alyssa’s Answer

Hi Genevieve,

I have been asked this in an interview and know it can be quite challenging to answer from experience. However, I find the best thing to do is to actually tailor your answer to the job you are applying to. I have been told by hiring managers that they are impressed when an applicant demonstrates their knowledge of the company and how they envision themselves progressing within those 5 years at the company. I think answering this way shows commitment and the ability to go the extra mile. Not only does it show interest, but it also may make you realize opportunities you may not have thought about within the company!

Best of Luck!
Thank you comment icon Thanks Alyssa! Genevieve
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Perry’s Answer

Questions like those can be tricky because some interviewers /companies are trying to see if you are serious about the company and role you are applying to. It can reveal an individual's career goals, their ambitions, and personality. More importantly, it can help the organization understand if you are considering their company long term. Its a rather straightforward question with a lot of nuances behind it. If you answer with a very long-winded response, you might over reveal something that could trigger red flags by accident.

In my opinion, I think its best to answer those types of questions with a rather general but honest response. Where do you see yourself in 5 years ? I can def see myself having graduated with a bachelor's degree, wanting to further advance my career. In ten years? Completing a nice 10 year run with a respectable company and maybe being in position of authority....yada yada yada. Those were just examples.








Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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Christopher’s Answer

Hi Joanna,

I love to answer based on what I think at the time. Just know what you think in 5 years can change 6 months later and that's okay.

10 years ago I wanted to be a sports broadcaster after graduating University. Didn't work out and now I'm in Tech Sales but I love every minute of it.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Genevieve
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