Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Go ahead and start practicing your answer to this question. Almost every interview I have ever had has asked me this. When I asked my friends on my Facebook page to help me practice some interview questions – this question came up. In my interview yesterday they asked me the same thing; for the first time I decided to answer honestly with no contrived answer and said, “Awww, I HATE this question! I don’t know. It depends. The future is uncertain.” I don’t know what they thought of my answer (yet) but for the first time I actually felt good about what I said in response – because it wasn’t a lie, or a bluff, or to try and wow them with my personal and professional goals. I feel that my answer showed that I am open, honest, and do not spend too much time dreaming about the possibilities of my future, rather- I am open to anything that presents itself.
As a Human Resources person, I see the interview as an opportunity to get to know the job candidates character. I want to know if they will make a good match for the team. I want to see if they can think on their feet. I should already know their qualifications for the job - that’s why I called them for an interview. What their resume doesn’t tell me is what kind of person they are. That in my opinion is the purpose of the interview. I think all interview questions should be scenario based – they should be related to the position you are applying for. Questions that can’t be practiced – but in order to answer effectively the candidate has to research the position they are applying for. Maybe I should market myself as an interview question writer where I research various positions and come up with interview questions for them. If you Google “interview questions” you get about 261,000,000 results. Most of them are generic questions that are asked in almost all interviews regardless of the actual job.
I understand part of the reasoning for the question – they want to know if I am going to take the job, throw myself into it, or if my goals are in line with the organization. They want to know if I am going to stay there for 5 years. Well, I don’t know. I might. I might not. I think a better question would be, “If we select you for this position, what are your goals as they relate to this organization?” Then I can frame the answer around the position – that I don’t yet have, and still can’t answer definitively; but at least it makes the question relevant to the job I am applying for.
I also offered insight to my personal goals for the next five years – to work on my writing and becoming a ‘real’ writer – as a job. I told them I started this blog, and they asked if they could read it. Of course! So, my interviewers from yesterday – if they have read my blog – know way more about me then what they learned in the 1/2 hour interview. This could backfire on me, but I figure if they don’t like it – they won’t hire me. I am okay with that because I am for the first time being honest with myself as well as my potential employers. It feels pretty good. Eventually, someone will interview me that appreciates not getting those ‘canned’ responses and find value in that; and hire me because I am qualified AND because they like who I am as a person and feel that I would be an asset to their organization. That is the organization I see myself staying with for the next 5, 10 or 20 years.
All interviews are pretty much the same, and if you are a job seeker (especially in this tough job market) you have to stand out. You have to make an impression. Canned responses, and overly practiced answers to these questions aren’t what employers are looking for (at least I hope not). It has become such a taboo to ‘be yourself’ in an interview – but for me, my new practice is to be just that – myself. If potential employers don’t like it – I probably don’t want to work for them anyway (and they probably won’t like having me there).
So where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Do you have an interview pet peeve? If you are someone who conducts interviews for your organization- What questions do you ask? What answers are you looking for?