Is this weathered old interview question still effective? In this dynamic age where entire industries can disappear in five years, is this question obsolete? Far from it, this question is like a classic movie – it sticks around forever. Where do you see yourself in five years reveals a great deal about a candidate’s personality and potential.
Take a look at these common answers to the question. Right or wrong, you form an impression very quickly based on the type of response. I know you have met more than your share of these candidates.
The Dodger: “Great question. There are so many options. Right now I am really focused on this position. I hope to be expanding my responsibilities and improving your client base.”
The Slacker: “I have not thought about that. I don’t know. I may want to be a manager. Also, I’ve always wanted to complete my master’s degree.”
The Overconfident: “Well, I will be sitting behind your desk.” Or,” I could be running my own firm by then.”
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The Comedian: “Hey, five years ago who thought I’d be here – at an insurance company! But, seriously, I am very motivated to be a property and casualty guru. I hope to be leading the large loss claims unit within three to five years.”
The Contender: This answer varies based on the candidate’s goals. A strong individual contributor may say, “My goal is to build my skills in XYZ and tackle any challenges over the next couple of years. I hope to be considered an expert in XYZ within three to five years.” A strong management candidate may say, “I see myself leading XYZ department/division and tacking issues such as ABC.”
As a recruiter, you can spot the wrong candidates within minutes. The answer to this question only confirms your suspicions. However, sometimes you have a real contender who may need a bit of coaching on this standard question. The right answer has these elements:
- Address the question head-on;
- Focus on the hiring manager’s needs;
- State realistic aspirations; Demonstrate commitment to sticking around for more than a year or two.
Ultimately, it does not benefit your client or the candidate if the candidate is not a match. A smart choice is to open the screening process with this type of classic question. Not only will you save valuable time, but you will also go a long way to preparing your candidate to deliver a compelling and confident answer come interview time.