Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Schools, whether public or private, always  prefer to hire teachers who plan to stay with them for a long time, or at least for a reasonable time. That’s no secret.

Every new employee is an investment–and it takes some time until this investment “pays off”, speaking in a business language. In a teaching language, it takes time until you get to know the ins and outs of a particular school, classes, until you connect with both teachers and students, and basically until you start feeling comfortable in your new role and really deliver. Needless to say, this argument is even more valid if you are fresh from college, and applying for your first teaching job.

Hence you should try to convince us that you do not plan to leave the school soon, and a good way of doing that is connecting your future with the educational institution in question. Of course, you can have your own plans and expectations from life. Perhaps you want to start your own school, or you dream of going to Far East and teach English there. I cannot tell…

Keep this plans secret while interviewing for a job and dealing with tricky teacher interview questions. Tell us that you would prefer to have the same job in five years time, becoming a better teacher, a better person over the years. Whether it really happens or not, is not that important for us. Alternatively you can focus on your goals from personal life, such as perhaps starting a family down the road. Let’s have a look at sample answers for different situations and teachers.


7 sample answers to “Where do you see yourself in five years time” interview question

  1. I love this job and I would be happy to work as a teacher in five years time, and also in ten years time. Hopefully I will become a great teacher over the years, someone the students will remember in good means, like someone who had a positive impact on their life and career. I have such teachers in my mind, teachers who helped me become who I am today, and who were my inspiration when I was deciding about my professional career, and enrolled for teaching. Hopefully I can become such a teacher myself in five years time.
  2. I see myself as a good role model for many children, ideally working at this school, since it is my first choice, and a place that faces many challenges. Challenges I’d love to help you address. Of course, I would also get older, perhaps my hair will turn gray, and who knows what else will happen in my life, and in the world in general. But I prefer to focus on things I can control, at least to some extend. That means working on my teaching skills, trying my very best in every lesson and with each student, and hopefully becoming a role model for some students at this school down the road.
  3. I do not have any career plans in such a short time horizon. However, I am thinking about starting a family in four, or in five years time. I would be glad to work as an elementary teacher until then and come back after my maternity leave. However, we never know what tomorrow will bring. Maybe I will start a family, and maybe it won’t happen. Regarding my job, however, I have no doubts. I want to work as an elementary teacher for many years to come.
  4. I see myself on a private island, lying on a sandy beach, listening to the waves, and sipping a fresh orange juice from a crystal clear glass. Well, that’s just a joke of course. I love to work, teach, and I dream of having an impact on the people I come to contact with in the job. Students, teachers, administrators, let’s hope I can bring some value to the school in five years time, and become a valuable team member.
  5. Five years? That’s quite a long time horizon to be honest, considering what we are witnessing in the world. You have the pandemic, the climate change, you have refugees leaving poor countries in millions. Can we really predict what will happen in five years? Especially if we bear in mind that schools were closed for a long time, teaching moved online, and many people lost their jobs. I prefer to live in a present moment, and focus at the task at hand. I will try to be the best teacher I can be, and give my 100% every day at work. If I manage to do it, I am sure I won’t end up disappointed in five years time.
  6. Being completely honest with you, I hope to have one of the leadership roles at this school. I’ve been teaching for a decade already, and though I still enjoy it, I am also looking forward to step up the career ladder, and perhaps get a job of a department lead, or of an assistant principal, in few years from now. That’s where I see myself in five years. Having said that, I understand that I have to prove my skills first, and deliver value day in day out in the classes. And that’s exactly the plan.
  7. My only wish is to become a much better teacher than I currently am, in five years time horizon. I know a lot about the continuous education you support at this institution, that you treat teachers as your most important assets. It is one of the reasons why I decided to apply with you, instead of some other school in the district. I believe I can realize all my ambitions at your school, and hope to be teaching here in five years time–doing a better job with the students than I’d ever done.


It is completely fine aspiring for leadership roles down the road

Generally speaking, school principals, superintendents, and other people who may lead your interview, like ambitious teachers who are not afraid to dream big, and express their ambitions in the interviews. At the end of the day, they also dream of promotion, or they will retire one day, and need someone like you to replace them in their role!

Therefore it isn’t a bad idea to express your wishes of becoming a head of department, assistant principal, athletic director, or any other leadership role you may realistically have in five years from now, bearing where you are standing right now with your education and experience. If you decide for such an answer, however, you should always add that you do not expect it to happen tomorrow, and know that you will have to prove your skills as a teacher, before you can become anything else at their school…

Special tip: Download TOP 3 answers to this question in a simple, one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later, for example right before your interview:

Top 3 answers – Where do you see yourself in 5 years, PDF

woman sitting outside, preparing for her interview

A little joke shows them that you won’t be a bore in the staff-room

Check the answer no. 4 on my list. The applicant starts talking about private island, sandy beaches, sea gulls and waves, and simply a simple life of a retired multi-millionaire. And while it may sound like a strange opening for an interview answer, you should remember that people sitting at the other side of the table are human beings from flesh and bones, just like you.

They enjoy working with people who do not hesitate to come up with a joke–in an appropriate moment of course, people who won’t bore them in the staff-room. Keep it on your mind. Of course, you should elaborate on the opening, saying that you were just joking, and can hardly afford such a lifestyle with a teacher’s salary :). Then you can narrate where you would really like to see yourself in five years time–enjoying your job, delivering value, having a positive impact on the students, and so on.


More difficult questions await you in your interview

How would you approach the students of the first class, on their first day at school? How do you measure student performance in your classroom? What teaching methods do you prefer and why?

Your interview won’t be an easy ride–at least most of the time. But I can help you pass it with a cool head. Check my eBook, the Teacher Interview Guide for brilliant answers to twenty-eight most common interview questions for teachers. You will find some great answers directly on the eBook page, so it makes sense to check it, even if you do not want to buy anything.

Thank you, and see you in an interview!


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Glen Hughins
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