“Where do you see yourself in the next two years?”
At some point in your career, you’ll likely be asked some version of this question by curious parents, well-meaning strangers, or hiring managers.
Your answer can reveal a lot about your priorities, and your potential fit for an industry or role. But if you don’t know what to say, you’re in luck: some thought and dedicated research can help you find answers.
Below, career experts share their tips for how to tackle the question for yourself and others.
If you are asked in a job interview, understand that they really want to know if you have plans to stay if you get hired.
Often job interviewers who ask this question are trying to see if you’re invested in growing your career with the company, said Harleny Vasquez, a career coach for social workers in New Jersey.
“He’s really asking, ‘Why do you want to work here?'” And it really comes down to, “Does this candidate see themselves in this organization?” Vasquez said. It could reveal a role mismatch if you talk about wanting to work someday in a different role or industry, rather than the job you’re interviewing for, she said. .
Vazquez gave an example of a job candidate targeting marketing jobs and applying for an assistant role. In this scenario, “You could say something along those lines [of]”Well, I hope to be in a leadership role in this marketing department in the next five years, and help the company advance its objectives or the employer’s brand.” “It shows that like, ‘Hey, my mind and my goals are thinking about the next five years, and I really believe in the company’s mission and values.'” “
Ideally, you’ll do your research beforehand to see what kind of skills and career paths are valued by the company you want to be hired for. This is also a good homework assignment to answer similar open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself.” Closely read the job description for key terms that must be mentioned, review employee resumes, and read the press that includes the team you’re applying to join, so you can tailor your answer to the goals of what the team is trying to achieve.
If you are caught off guard by this question, said Sweta Regmi, a career coach based in Canada, you can still save yourself by going with a safe answer of wanting to be an expert on the subject.
You could say, “I want to supervise, I want to coach people like me. I really want to do more assignments. I want to coach for something else too, so I can make an impact on the work I do.” Regmi said, “I want to be known as an expert.” These are a specific type of answer [are] security.”
Once you set your intention to be an expert, Regmi said, it can open the door to job candidates asking clarifying questions like, “Can you help me understand how to develop your people?”
“Where do you see yourself?” The answer does not have to be a drawn-out answer that lasts more than two minutes. Vasquez suggested setting the time yourself, so you can practice giving a specific and concise response.
In general, keep in mind that job interviews are a two-way street. You don’t just tell your employer what they want to hear; You also find out if the role matches your long-term plans. To that end, Regmi said, you don’t have to wait until the question to clarify that front. If you’re talking about personal development already, I suggested asking, “Where does this role branch out?” or “what are the [key performance indicators] for high performance? “
Outside of job interviews, this is a common question that can prompt helpful reflection.
If you are a fresh graduate or making a major career change, you will likely be asked about your future career plans with this type of question as well. Don’t get upset if you’re stuck on what to say.
Some people know from an early age exactly what they want to be, and they are driven by this goal. But if you don’t have a clear vision of where you want to be, that’s okay too.
If you’re in this state of uncertainty, Vazquez said, you can first turn to your “why” to see what energizes and motivates you, and look up more information from there. For graduates, that might mean asking yourself why you initially pursued a particular concentration or degree, or thinking about what brings you joy or makes you feel confident.
“What got me into social work was because I always knew I wanted to help other people. I’ve always found the brain so fascinating,” she said. in this field, which led me to social work.”
Networking at industry-related events and talking to people who have jobs of interest can also help you clarify what the future is open to you, so you can chart your own career path.
If you are already working out, try setting short-term goals to see if they are appropriate in the long term. Regmi suggested that if you want to become a manager, for example, you could ask your boss if you can sit in on a team meeting to see what goes on behind the scenes between leadership.
“It first starts with self-awareness… identifying your strengths first and your skills before you are able to define a specific industry,” Vazquez said. “Once you identify those skills and strengths…then you can go to Google, go to LinkedIn, you know, and explore different industries or job roles or even different career paths based on those interests.”
Even if you haven’t identified your “why” yet, networking events still provide an opportunity to find representatives for an organization and draw on talking about their mission. You can do this by using language like “I’m a fresh graduate coming in.” Vasquez offered as an example, “I am very interested in your company’s mission of providing trauma-informed care to children and families.
“It still shows that this person has done their research and wants to learn and wants to grow,” she said. This answer would be much better than “I don’t know.” “