Thursday, August 8, 2019

Answering Interview Q's : Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

What are your future career goals?

If you've ever given an interview before, you'll know one of the most important question is the one which concerns your future career goals. Such questions typically come in the form of direct questions like 'What are your future career goals?' or indirect ones like 'Where do you see yourself in 5 years?', or to take a more long term perspective - 'What do you wish to achieve towards the end of your career?'

Why is this Question asked?

Like all other interview questions, these questions also have a specific purpose. If you know the motivation behind why such questions are asked, you'll be be able to answer in a more suitable manner which can create a positive impact on your interviewers.There are generally four main reasons why such questions are asked during interviews:

1. To find out how clear you are in your future career goals and whether you have mapped out your career path in a consistent manner. 

2. If your career goals match with the corporate goals set for the specific position you have applied for. 

3. To discover the extent of your ambition and your perception of success.

4. Finally, if you're serious about staying in the job, or merely using it as a stopgap until something more suitable comes along. 

So how to answer such questions in a way which creates a positive impact on your interviewers? 

How not to answer

1. Many candidates answer such questions by elaborating upon their own future benefits and personal achievements such as promotions, higher salary and incentives which gives the impression of a very selfish, narrow ambition. Instead, focus on higher work responsibilities and wider contribution to the company with respect to your job.

2. A lot of candidates also make the mistake of saying that their goal is to start their own business. While being an entrepreneur is an admirable ambition, it's the wrong sort of answer to give during a job interview, as your prospective employers are looking to develop you into a human resource asset in the future, and not someone who will gain experience at their expense and then leave the job to start their own business.

3. Another wrong way to answer is to mention that you're looking to continue your education and will be going in for higher studies. It gives the impression that the job is a temporary proposition for you, and you'll leave it as soon as you get entrance in some full time course. If you wish to mention about your ambition for continuing further studies, you should make it clear it will be through distance or online education, or part-time evening classes, something that won't disturb your regular work schedule.

How to answer 

First of all, you should realize that these type of questions cannot be answered on the spur of the moment, or without any preparation, or you could end up giving completely unrealistic or generalized kind of answer.

1. Prior to your interview, you should first find out about the company's corporate goals, the specific job responsibilities involved, and the career growth path before answering this question and customize your career goals accordingly. 

2. Your answer should be task focused and not materialistic. Project yourself as someone who can develop the relevant expertise and experience to perform wider work responsibilities and functions in the future, whom the company can depend upon to contribute towards its growth, instead of just obtaining higher monetary benefits and promotions for your self.

3. It may be a good idea to give a break up of your immediate short term goals and your long term goals. Short term goals are always specific and target oriented.Your short term goals need to adhere to the SMART Goals criteria:  


4. If you’re giving an interview for a marketing job profile, focus on achievement of targets (measurable), expanding the client base of the company, brand promotion and development of sales team (specific), etc. For a technical job profile, it could be successful testing and implementation of new software (specific) or meeting the project completion deadlines (measurable).

5. Don't try to oversell yourself or impress your interviewers by giving unrealistic or non-achievable goals.Answers such as 'I'll be able to double the sales figures in my area in one month's time' or 'I'd like to see myself as the regional manager of the company within one years time' will definitely be considered ambitious and unrealistic. 

For example, if you're going for a marketing or sales related job interview, you should familiarize yourself with the past growth rates of the industry vertical, and the intensity of the prevailing competition. For a technical job profile interview, it's always a good idea to consult some one who's working in a similar job profile prior to your interview to get a realistic picture of the achievable goals possible in that role. 

How long should your answer be?

Such type of questions are open-ended questions, which means you can give an elaborate answer. However, make sure to start off with the most relevant part of your answer first, then move on to the less relevant ones, as you may be interrupted by your interviewer(s) once they hear what satisfies them, or the moment you start giving irrelevant information.

Pre-interview preparation is the key

In conclusion, it's important to understand that prior preparation & research are the key to answering most interview questions, and this one's no exception. The higher the level of your preparation, the better are your chances of performing with ease and confidence during your interview, and to be able to give relevant answers. To end off with a word of caution, don't make your answers sound rehearsed and memorized from beforehand. You need to answer in a natural spontaneous manner which will sound more authentic to your interviewers.