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How To Answer “Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?” In An Investment Banking Interview

Banker Projection

During your interviews, you will often be asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. 

The question you are probably asking yourself is: Why are recruiters asking this question? What do they want to know about you? 

Two main things. First, they want to evaluate how decided you are about your career trajectory. They want to see if you’re the type of person who could probably stay in IB for 10 years, or the one who would most likely give it a try for 1 or 2 years before moving on to something else. 

It’s perfectly fine to want to try IB for a short period, to decide if it’s for you or not. Just bear in mind that during the interview, recruiters prefer candidates that have a long-term view, and who know what they want to do in the long-term. 

It’s a sign of motivation, and it also sub-communicates that you could be a more loyal employee, which is what recruiters are looking for, as one of their key objectives is to reduce employee turnover.

Second, they want to see if you can project yourself into the future and make realistic assumptions about your career progression. 

Don’t say that you expect to become a MD in 5 years if you’re still at uni. You need to be realistic about what you may reasonably become in this time frame, and the best way to know that is to speak with experienced investment bankers who’ve been in the game for at least 5 years. 

Example of possible answer
  • Say that you could be wrong, but based on your current interest for the Investment Banking industry and the fact that you like to commit strongly whenever you start something, it’s fair to assume that you will want to work on M&A deals over the next 5-10 years (or whatever field of interest you have, could be ECM, Leveraged Finance, etc.)
  • Highlight that you don’t have a crystal ball, and that you’re aware that sometimes people change jobs or industries unexpectedly. But as of now, you are very willing to pursue a career in M&A over the next few years to learn from the industry’s best practices and become increasingly more involved in M&A deals. 
  • Every conversation that you had with senior bankers consolidated your motivation to build a career in investment banking, which is why you would like to start working at a great, reputable firm in the sector.
Important note

The right answer for you depends on your level of experience. In general, the less experienced you are, the more you can afford to convey uncertainty in your outlook. 

After all, if you’re a university student who has never stepped foot into Investment Banking before, it’s obvious that you can’t know for sure if you plan to stay in this industry longer term until you gain a first IB experience.

On the other hand, if you have 2-3 years of experience, recruiters will usually expect you to show strong, long-term commitment to investment banking. 

For more help on your investment banking interviews, check out our guide here.


A word about the author

Aurelian Tran is the founder of Alpha Lane and an ex-Goldman Sachs analyst who has spent 4+ years working in the investment banking industry.

He founded Alpha Lane to help students and young professionals achieve their highest professional ambitions, by securing offers at top-tier financial institutions.