I dread this question and I think most of us do, but some interviewers will still ask it, so it is best to be prepared for it rather than trying to think on your feet.
Personally, we here at Paramount Personnel believe in honesty; if you don’t have a clue where you see yourself in five years, it might be prudent to answer something like this, “As someone who is looking to learn as much as I can when I’m here, hopefully in a year or two, I'll have a better idea of what I want next."
Of course, if the job you’re going for is in a senior position, you should really have thought about this question before. With that in mind, it’s vital to think about the size and culture of the establishment you’re interviewing for.
Are they fast-paced and busy? If so, make sure your answer fits the bill; go big! “In five years, I'd like to have completed your leadership training course. I read about it on your website and think it's a phenomenal program. Once I've completed that course, I'd like to develop my skill set to eventually become a Head Chef, with my own team."
If they are slower-paced establishment, make sure you are staying realistic about what kind of progress you can make there. Plus, the focus could shift to the hard or soft skills you want to develop, relationships you want to make, or even personal goals to give the recruiter a better idea of your priorities.
If you’re going for a junior role (Commis Chef or similar), you might like to say something like this, “I'd like to focus short-term on developing my skills to become incredibly proficient at my job. Then, I'd like to progress to a more senior role which may involve me taking on extra training to help with this.”
You might like to try something a little more modest, i.e. "My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new skills. In five years, I imagine I'd like to be in a leadership position - additionally, I'm interested in learning more about the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does."
Basically, there aren’t many wrong answers, apart from the obvious… “dunno!” I’d avoid that one if I were you! Put a little thought in to what you want personally, and how you’re hoping to achieve that, working for the company you’re interviewing with. When you have a clearer picture, it will help you shape your answer, perfectly – Good Luck!