Job seekers often answer this question by telling employers what they want to hear...instead of just telling them how they really feel.
The problem with this question is most people are afraid if they don't express aspirations to climb the corporate ladder, they will be seen as weak or lacking in ambition. Nothing could be further from the truth.
FACT: Employers often prefer to hire people who are promotable to the next 2 job levels.
However...there is nothing wrong with wanting to be your best at your current job level for the foreseeable future.
Actually, many successful people simply enjoy being individual contributors, and have no desire to manage people...Ever.
This is especially true with engineers, lawyers, technicians, teachers, writers, software developers, accountants, and many other professionals.
Pearl of Wisdom: The most important thing to remember when you are asked, Where do you see yourself career-wise 5 years from now?, is you are first and foremost being interviewed for the current job opening.
In other words, this employer has a burning need to fill their current job opening. The longer it remains open, the more problematic it is for the company. So your career aspirations are secondary.
Special Tip: When developing good answers to interview questions like this, avoid saying to hiring authorities:
Remember...you are being hired to help this company grow, prosper, and solve their current problems. Right now they are looking at you from the perspective of...what can you do for us?
If you have entrepreneurial urges or other creative business ideas, keep them to yourself for now. On the other hand, if your career goals do include management, or executive level positions, make sure your time frame is reasonable.
Notice in the examples above, how each answer first focuses on the job at hand, followed by the logical next step up the ladder.
Have you taken my Mock Job Interview Quiz? It could make a difference in you getting an offer...or not.
Other good answers to interview questions: