I have always hated that interview question. I hate it so much, that I won't even ask it.
Throughout my entire career, I have never had a good answer for it. Truthfully, I have never had a career plan (what kind of Career Advisor admits to this?) In high school I would say that my plan was to marry rich, during undergrad I always planned on going to grad school (which I didn't do because I didn't want to pay for it), after that I would look for jobs that interested me (how I ended up in staffing and recruitment is beyond me). Since I didn't marry rich, or go to grad school I've been winging it for the past 20 years. I'm able to identify and use my transferable skills, I have enhanced my education with further accreditations, and I work hard. But if you ask me where do I want to be in 5 years? I still don't have an answer.
So why would any recruiter or hiring manager expect any different?
Working with undergrads for the past year has been very refreshing. It's really great to see the optimism of youth. So many of our students have definite plans - and I applaud them for it. But I'm a realist. I also let them know to be okay if their plans change. Our definition of success changes as our circumstances change, and that's okay.
What if your 5 year plan includes graduating, completing your CPA designation, and making partner? Then, during those 5 years, you fall in love, get married and have twins? I guarantee, whether you are the mom or the dad, you will re-evaluate that 5 year plan. Maybe you will be even more determined to achieve your goal, maybe you will change the goal completely.
My point, if I have one, is that if you are a recruiter- please stop asking this question. If you are a candidate, have an answer ready for it, but know that it's 100% okay to change your plans.