Interview Insights | Interview Question: Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?

Interview Question: Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?

While this is a common question, the truth is that no one has a crystal ball. Chances are that five years ago you wouldn’t have imagined being where you are today. So take this question with a grain of salt and be creative. Here’s how you can tackle this question tactfully.

Believe that you will be promoted 1–2 times within a five year period. Do your homework and ask your network if that is a reasonable time frame within their organization. Consider the title that you will have within five years and search LinkedIn for profiles of employees who are in that position today.

  • What accomplishments have these employees picked up along the way?
  • How have their responsibilities broadened in terms of direct reports or managing larger and larger budgets?
  • What clients did they support and in what capacities?
  • Did they have a chance to work abroad or work on global accounts?

The key is to find a real person who works for your target company and focus on mentioning the things that are beyond what you would be doing within your current level yet can be earned as part of your future role during the next five years.

Here’s one example:

I’m interviewing with Forbes because your news stories matter to tastemakers, iconoclasts, and power players. Your readers are affluent. The publication is industry-recognized. Articles are measured in terms of viewers — which I find really attractive because it’ll give me a great sense of whether my stories are sticky. I also know that career opportunities with Forbes are vast. In five years, I would like to become an influencer amongst this audience. I want to be one step ahead and uncover news stories that entertain, educate, and inspire a wide audience. Within that time frame, I would want to be an Associate Editor for Forbes covering lifestyle stories in the fashion, fine arts, and philanthropy worlds similar to Jane Lee. I’ve been following her pieces for quite some time. But until then, my plan is to video edit, contribute timely pieces, and assist with the post-production needs of the department as an Editorial Assistant. I’m glad you asked this question because I’ve take a proactive approach to my career ever since I graduated Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

Melissa Llarena’s craft is coaching top executives on how to strategically dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Get instant access to a 20-page interview preparation kit that will give you an edge. Join the thousands who’ve read her career insights in Forbes and The Huffington Post. Follow her at @CareerOutcomes.