The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is considered to not only be one of the most hated and laziest questions asked during an interview, but also the most common. Because you are certain to be asked this question at least once during your job search process, it’s a good idea to have an answer ready. Because it generally comes towards the end of the questions posed to candidates, it’s a good idea to anticipate it being asked and to be proactive about getting the information you need to answer it.
During the interview there is generally give and take between you and the interviewer. Use this to your advantage by asking about projects that are currently being worked on, what types of projects you are likely to be immediately assigned to, and that sort of thing. You want to have enough fresh information to be able to give a good answer should this dreaded question be asked, and also to properly formulate questions later on when asked.
There is no correct answer to this question, but there are several wrong answers. Answers where you seem arrogant or glib are to be avoided at all costs. You also want to avoid sounding as though you have no future plans and haven’t considered your role and impact on the company.
When you are finally asked the question, talk about how the projects mentioned previously have been completed successfully, how you have moved on to other projects and expanded your role with the company. If there is continuing education involved, talk about how you anticipate it positively impacting your role within the company, completion of projects and your work with assigned teams. This makes you look thoughtful, like a team player and as an asset to the company.
An important note is that when you tailor your answer to your impact on the company you are interviewing with, you save the interviewer the trouble of trying to picture how you would fit in with the company and what you would offer. This is a winning approach to an often dreaded question.