Chinese New Year has come and gone but it’s still the Lunar season. In times past, people usually go looking for a new job after the new year if they evaluate themselves to have been less fortunate in the past year and want to do better with a new job. And as the MCO moves on erratically, we earnestly believe that the economy is just waiting to expand at the right time in the future.
Bearing this in mind, let us explore the next common question you will face in an interview.
The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
What an intimidating question. I remember this feeling very well. Somehow we tell ourselves that since we are the jobseeker, we are in an inadequate position and that the interviewer and the company is certainly always in the right. We need the job so we come up with unrealistic answers such as;
“I see myself continuing to work here.”
“In five years, after learning up the job, I intend to be head of department here.”
Wow, the answers are more intimidating than the question itself. The second answer seems to hint that you might be replacing the current head of department. Sounds confident, but it’s off target. The first one is very vague and doesn’t offer anything tangible to be interpreted either. It’s what people would call “a failure of imagination”. There are also other “people pleaser” answers that are easy to pick up and patronising. That’s a sure way to fail and treat the interview more like a Q&A rather that two sides seeing if they can work together.
But all too often, a question like this deserves a very simple but targeted answer. Try this instead.
“Throughout the five years, I expect to progress based on my job performance. I’d like to explore and take new responsibilities in the process as well.”
Now how does that sound? More value invoked by you? Remember that an interview is a two way street. Besides, you don’t have any relevant information about this new company’s KPI for you and it might be a few steps up from where you were before. Therefore, give a more targeted answer as opposed to shooting in the dark. What we mean by that is try not to say or give away too much information that’s not relevant but matching up to an employers expectations of an important worker. This is not an “open up” kind of question where you can feel at home and share your dreams.
Engage the Questioner Professionally
At the same time, you can ask relevant questions like “What are the likely plans that the company has for this division in those 5 years?” Be prepared with your own likely and generally logical answer if you want to ask this question. The interviewer might turn the tables on you and ask “What do you think those plans should be?”. This is a serious question and it suddenly demands a serious answer from a serious candidate. Engage the questioner professionally and not just give answers.
Be Industry Specific
Your prepared answer could sound like,
“Generally speaking, we should form a trade planning committee comprising the management, marketing and buyers in order to secure a better footing in market share.”
The above is just a more precise example for a company in retail sales, so be industry specific if you can with your questions. You can find out inside information about a company from friends who have worked there or by what we mentioned in an earlier post which is engaging and building a relationship with people inside the company via social media.
Align your answer with the correct response
With such responses, suddenly the interviewer finds you serious and speaking from a well garnered experience. The discussion can change from there. Remember one thing, the more managers ask questions, the more they are interested in knowing your response.
Coming back to wrong answers again, please don’t tell them that you want to have your own business in 5 years. Obviously, you won’t get hired for this one because you won’t be staying on the job. You’ve become un-investable.
Align your answers to where this position is going. Just talk about serving, helping and growing the company for mutual benefit. You could say:
“In the first year, I would really like to get a good grip of the department’s and company’s operations. As I like to train and mentor, I would like to help the junior staff in the department to get certified in their skills such as _ and _ certifications in the second till the third year. If successful, we will go for an ISO in the fourth or fifth year.”
So here we are. Bear in mind that there are countless more ways to respond but the key here is to be relevant and important enough to be considered a serious candidate as opposed to abstract and vague, non-targeted answers.