With the 2011 knocking at our doors, thoughts about the future seem inevitable these days. Each year, people write a list of their resolutions and goals for the future. Although most may be personal goals, a good number of people care enough about their professional lives that they set aside the time to set goals and resolutions for their careers as well.
As a recent graduate, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want and where I want to go with my career. Not only does the not knowing drive me crazy, but I have goals and dreams that I would someday love to achieve. I just need to figure out how to get there.
With the future in mind, I stumbled across this article about the elusive five-year questions interviewees are often faced with.
Where will I be in five years? Honestly, I have no clue. Who does? We may know where we WANT to be in five, ten, twenty years, but how often do our “plans” for life and our futures work out?
Another truthful admission, I’ve never been asked this question at a job interview. I am pretty sure the only person I have ever met that has prepped for this questions was an aspiring med student anxiously awaiting her med school interviews. Luckily, she got into her first choice school after one interview and exciting-ly early in the admission process too, so she’s off the hook to answer it again.
Back to the question. According to the article, the “Where do you see yourself in ten years” question is a trick question. It’s not a relevant question to them, because they will never guarantee your employment in five years.
- Choose the best answer
For those, like me, who are new in their profession, the article recommended playing up that you really hope to become an expert in your field within five years.
According to them, you may want to say something like, “In five years, I see myself as a successful graphic designer (or your creative field), and learning new skills that will benefit the company and help me achieve my career goals. I am eager to experience new challenges and excited to invest five years time specializing in a career I find extremely interesting and motivating.”
Even though I have never been asked the five-year question, I’m pretty sure I say something along the lines of that sometime during an interview.
- Be realistic and motivated
Obviously, you shouldn’t set your five-year goals to be sky-high. According to the article, it causes the interviewer to lose respect for you. That being said, you and only you know how much you can achieve within a time frame. So find a way to let them know that, even if your goals may seem a bit out of reach, you have the drive and the ambition to reach them.
- Communicate that you’re in for the long haul
In general, it’s just never a good idea to say something along the lines of “oh, I’m just wanting to work for you to get to x, y or z.” Let them know that you’re serious about your commitment to stick with the company.
- Demonstrate that you’ve read the job description
It’s always important to a) know the details of the job you’re interviewing for and b) know the company as well as you can. The interviewer will respect that you cared enough to invest your time and energy into researching not just the job, but the company too.
Once you have a good understanding of the company, use that to your advantage. In the article, they used the following example: If the company is team-based, mention that you are a good in teams and that you work best in collaborative environments.
- Walk a fine line
Keep it strictly professional. You may want to divulge your inner most feelings and dreams, but an interview is not the time or place for that information. It makes you look unprofessional and, according to the article, whiney.
With the how-to out-of-the-way, I feel it would only be appropriate for me to answer the question:
In five years, I see myself as a successful public relations professional with a strong background in social media. I hope that I will have had the opportunity to strengthen my skill set by working on engaging and interesting projects and attending numerous social media and public relations educational seminars that, in turn, will have benefited the company and helped me achieve my career goals.
Or something like that. Now, it’s your turn! Where do you see yourself in five years?