Most of us don’t have a rigid five year plan. This doesn’t mean that we’re not career driven people, it simply means that we’re willing to explore new career options as and when they present themselves.
For this reason, the ‘five year’ question can be an intimidating one in an interview situation. The question can come in many different forms. For example, ‘What are your long-term career goals?’ or ‘what’s most important to you in your career?’ Essentially the interviewer wants to understand how this job fits within your plans for the future.
Here are a few quick do’s and don’ts when it comes to answering the ‘five year plan’ interview question.
- Don’t hint that this is not your dream job. A career goal which is totally unconnected to the position you’re applying for will not convince the interviewer that you are passionate about the job in hand. ‘I would like to do this job to fill time until my band makes it’ is one answer sure to put off the employer.
- Don’t lie. They’re not expecting you to swear undying devotion to the company. ‘In five years I hope to be working in this same job with the same people doing the same thing day in day out’ is NOT what the interviewer wants to hear. They just want to know that you are a worthwhile investment. Even though you may not stick around for ever – the fact is you’re more likely to stay with the company and work your hardest if this job fits in with your long term career goals.
- Don’t be flaky. Stick to one career goal. Even though there may be a couple of different career options that you have your eye on, a focused answer will convince the interviewer that you are a motivated individual.
- Tell a story. Try and link your career goal to an experience you’ve had in your past. For example, ‘I worked as a team leader at a pub for a while and really enjoyed the challenge of managing a team to work as efficiently as possible. For this reason I would like to explore management in the future.’
- Be prepared! As ever the best way to answer this question is to think of a few relevant examples in advance. This will help you feel confident and calm when going into your interview which is bound to make you shine to the interviewer.