Whether you’re a new graduate or someone with a few years of experience under your belt, you might come across interview questions about where you’d like to go in your career. One of the more common versions of this question is, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Although it may not be the most creative question, it’s an important question to ask yourself anyway, and you should have a response prepared for the interview.

First, let’s consider what the interviewer is really asking. They want to find out a few things: Have you given thought to your career? Are you ambitious or do you lack initiative? Do your goals fit with those of the company? Are you going to be a long-term employee or are you going to jump ship for the next big opportunity?

The interviewer doesn’t want to hear that you don’t plan to stay at their company for long. Neither does she want to hear that you plan to start your own business, go to grad school, or live on a beach in Greece. What they want to hear is that you’re looking to make a commitment to the company and that the role is not only exactly what you’re looking for but also something you do well.

Don’t be too rigid in your goals, such as, “I want to be promoted within a year, and be managing a team six months after that.” This can automatically take you out of consideration if the position has little growth opportunity. And if you are applying for an entry-level position, this seems presumptuous and the company may go with a different candidate that has more realistic goals.

A good answer to this question will show you’ve thought about your career and that you want to continue to learn and grow at the company, as well as shows off your strengths and accomplishments. If you have strong values about contributing to the team or working at a large corporation, include this in your answer.

For example, a good answer could be, “I’d like to continue progressing in the marketing field, and see myself in a more senior marketing role. Judging by our conversation so far, this position would give me the opportunity to gain new skills and techniques that would help me to advance. I’d like to continue taking on more responsibilities and am confident that I can make positive contributions to the team that will bring the company more success.”

Keep in mind that the goal of the interview is to convince your interviewer that you are the best person for the job so that you will proceed to the next stage of the job search process: the offer. So, show the interviewer that you can contribute to the company’s success!

Do you have other examples of how to answer (or how NOT to answer) questions about your goals and future? Please share them in the comments section below!