Amy Levin-Epstein on how to answer “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Levin-EpsteinHere is an article written by Amy Levin-Epstein for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

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(MoneyWatch) Tough interview questions are meant to “separate the men from the boys” and help the interviewer spot a diamond in the rough — or something like that. In reality, they merely set people who are naturally talented at interviews, or those who are well prepared, apart from those who struggle with these meetings or are less prepared. One typical tough query? “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Here’s how the experts suggest you attack this question.

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Focus on your anticipated goals rather than position

Instead of honing in on your title in five years, discuss how you’ll help your team today and over that period of time. “While every company wants to hire someone who wants to stay for the long haul, don’t go over the top talking about how you want to be at the organization for life,” says Tracy Brisson, founder of The Opportunities Project, a career coaching firm for younger employees. “If you’re unsure about your plans for the future, play that uncertainty down.”

Be vague if necessary

It can be problematic to say “I want to be at this company in five years, in X position” because that may not be true or even realistic, given today’s marketplace in certain industries and companies. “Instead, give an answer that shows that you are interested in this position and in this company,” suggests Cheryl Palmer, founder of Call to Career, a career-coaching firm. She suggests “I am very interested in this company because from what I read of your values statement, my values align with the company’s. In five years I see myself making a significant contribution to this organization and increasing my skill level.”

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self, and Redbook), websites (including, and and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). Click here to visit her website. To check out all of her articles on CBS MoneyWatch, please click here.

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