"Where do you want to be in 5 years?"
It is a question where virtually any answer can get you into trouble, since you don't know your interviewer. If you aim too high, you might come off as too ambitious and either won't be around long enough to cover the cost of training or you'll threaten their own position. If you aim too low, you lack initiative and won't contribute enough to cover the cost of your salary.
So how the heck does one reply? I puzzled over this for days. And then weeks. And then more weeks. Finally, I could find no good "pat" answer that also felt safe. Therefore, I opted to tell the truth and the interviews be damned!
So from then on when I was asked where I wanted to be in my career five years from now, I told them:
"I don't have a specific plan! I would like to advance. However, I am flexible. I will do my current job to the best of my ability and keep my eyes open for opportunities within the organization to advance even if it means changing roles. I am prepared to learn new things and contribute to the overall success of the organization in a number of ways. The only specific within that "plan of willingness" is that the opportunity be within my ability to learn, interesting enough for me to dig in and do a good job, and the compensation increase a reasonable amount in relation to the demands of the position."
I was hired!!
I have since been interviewed for a number of promotions by a number of different people (most of whom have come and gone and never even met each other.) I gave them all the same answer!! And I've earned eight promotions in thirty-one years.
The truth has one advantage over the best prepared scripts. No one is expecting it!