‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’
Every time I mention this question in a workshop the exasperation is audible! It’s one that a lot of apprentices I work with regularly state they find tricky and struggle with answering – and that’s no surprise, for most young people, they’re eager to get started on their first opportunity without worrying about where that might lead at this point.
This question gets easier when you start to think about why an employer would ask it and what they’re looking for in your answer. I’ve heard lots of different advice around this question – from being over confident (‘I want your job in five years time!’) to the lacking (‘I’m just grateful for the opportunity to start here’). It’s important to pitch honestly and appropriately.
Why do Employers ask this question?
The biggest thing employers tell me they’re looking for in an apprentice, or any new starter, is someone who knows they want to work in the industry, and more than that – they want to work for them specifically as a business.
This question looks to bring out what thought you’ve given to your future career and why you’re sitting in the interview room in the first place. Within your answer the employer will be looking for;
- Awareness of potential progression within the business/industry
- Enthusiasm to build career within the industr
- Research into the company career paths or research into where your apprenticeship can lead (next qualification level etc)
- What should your answer look like?
You need to demonstrate the above – this question links quite well back to the ‘Why Have You Applied for an Apprenticeship?’ question and there are parts of this you can use here, but focus more on your career and the industry over the apprenticeship route.
If you know you want to move into a management role – Great! Tell them! If you know of others who have taken this career path and how they’ve progressed, talk about that and how you hope to do the same.
You don’t have to have a concrete career plan in place, and it’s ok to be a little uncertain – reference why you have applied for the industry specifically and what attracts you to working for the company. Talk about the next steps for your qualification – research what the next level/training route would be and talk about this.
This is also a great chance to ask the employers some questions – Where were they 5 years ago? If they were working somewhere else what inspired them to join the company? If they’ve worked there for years, find out what their career trajectory has been like and how much support they’ve had. How have other apprentices in the business got on? Where are they now from when they started?
1. In five years times I’d really like to have worked my way through my Apprenticeship framework in Childcare right through to Level 4 and be considering a degree level qualification in Education Studies. I’ve read up on some of your apprentice testimonials on your website, and how they’ve been supported from day one to pursue their studies and grow with the business. That’s really exciting for me as I know I want to work in this industry and that there are a lot of different career paths, so a company that can help me start tailoring my career is perfect.
2. I know I want to become a Chartered Management Accountant and that working with yourselves with provide me with the right platform to achieve this. I’ve reviewed the progression routes – either via the apprenticeship framework or through yourselves as a company and your training schemes – so in five years time I want to have reached that qualification point and be looking at how I can contribute more to business growth.
3. Starting my apprenticeship is a great way for me to start building my experience in this industry – I know there are several different career paths available to me with you as a business and although I’m not sure which one is best for me at the moment, I know that experiencing a bit of everything over the next 12months will really help me decide and with the support of my management to identify my strengths and ongoing development, in five years I’d like to be working within a Team Leader or Management role, even supporting new apprentices like myself to learn and grow with their career.
photo by: poupetta