Four Interview Questions Candidates Find Most Difficult: Interview Question #4
As part of an ongoing series, career coach Catherine Palmiere’s goal has been to help you succeed during the interview process. Knowing what interview questions are likely to be asked is half the battle – the other half is answering them in a way that lands you the job.
Each week, Catherine has posed a new interview question and taught you how to come up with your own valuable answer. Using these tips will help you reply with confidence and make you stand out among your competitors.
Here is the final question in Catherine’s “Job Interview Questions” series.
Interview Question #4: “Where do you see yourself in three to five years?”
When clients come to my coaching business to conduct mock interviews, they often want to go over this question; after all, haven’t you been asked this on an interview before? It’s a tough one, especially considering the ever-changing job market these days.
When you’re answering the “three to five year” question, demonstrate your willingness to learn and become an authority within the interviewer’s company – they’ll appreciate your motivation and it could help youland the job.This question puts you in dangerous territory – answer it incorrectly, and you could be disqualified from the job.
Sometimes my clients ask me if it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” While none of us really know where we’ll be in three to five years, you need to answer this question with vision – so I coach my clients to say something like this:
“I don’t know where I will be in three to five years, but I know where I want to be now… and that is with a progressive organization like yours where my intelligence, education and software skills will be recognized.” Can any company really ask for more than that?
Better than “I don’t know,” however, is a firm, focused answer that tells the interviewer how you’ll fit within their company in three to five years.
I ask this question myself; in the staffing business, it’s my responsibility to screen candidates before they get to an interviewer’s office. I’ve gotten all kinds of responses, including these for an Administrative Assistant job:
- Candidate A: “I see myself going back to school and becoming a Graphic Designer.”
- Candidate B: “I see myself being stuck in a dead-end job.”
- Candidate C: “I see myself having to attend classes every few months to stay up on technology.”
Candidate A showed real drive and motivation with her answer – but remember, she’s applying to work as an Administrative Assistant. While it’s great to want to further your education (usually employers love that), it’s not in an area that would benefit the company; the interviewer can tell that she’ll be there for a short period of time and her priorities lie elsewhere.
Candidate B crashed and burned. He’s showing the interviewer he’s lost all hope and has no self-confidence; it looks like he has no ambition, and most employers aren’t looking to staff their “Disgruntled Employee Department.”
Candidate C answered fairly well, but she didn’t take the answer home – she only got to first base. During an interview, you’re looking for a home run: a job offer. If she’d have said, “I (will) enjoy being an Administrative Assistant because I’m not only great at keeping other people organized and have super time-management skills, I also have up-to-date computer skills. I know that technology is ever-changing, so I attend computer software classes on a regular basis to stay current. I feel that in three to five years, I’ll be your top Administrative Assistant and be the model for your other Assistants to follow. After I’ve proven myself within your organization and shown you what I’m capable of doing, I hope that you will look to me for advice on implementing new programs to make administrative jobs easier and help make other Administrative Assistants become more efficient.”
Can you see how taking this answer one step further adds value to the candidate?
When an interviewer asks you this question, they want you to frame your response within their company – they don’t want to hear that you’ll be out the door as soon as you get a better opportunity.
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