Have you been to an interview where you answered all the questions brilliantly, and you were about to consider the interview a success, when the person across the table throws out a gem likes this. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Honestly what do they expect us to say? I’ll admit I had a few quips that came to my mind when faced with this question, none of which I’ve said out loud mind you.
- In 5 years I’d like to be your boss.
- I definitely wouldn’t want to be stuck here for 5 years.
- Interviewing candidates to replace me as I’ve been elected President of the World.
- The earth would have been destroyed by our supreme alien overlords, so it doesn’t really matter what I’ll be doing.
I know you’re supposed to say something that sounds meaningful like “In 5 years I would have made material contributions to take this organization to the next level”. But is this kind of canned BS response really telling you anything about the candidate? It shows she’s prepared (which is good), and full of sh*t (which is bad). At the end of the day it tells me nothing about her skills, qualifications, or personality. I would seriously question the culture of a company that bases their hiring decisions on these “soft” questions. Some other “winners” I’ve been asked during interviews were:
- Why do you want to work here? (Because playing Mario Cart while chugging Mountain Dew doesn’t pay the bills)
- Why should we hire you? (Honestly, you shouldn’t)
- What are your biggest weaknesses? (Stupid questions during interviews)
- Describe the teddy bear of the future. (It can fly, time travel, and shoot lasers out of its eyes. Am I hired yet?)
If you’re looking to flesh out more details about a candidate’s skills and experience, consider asking more relevant open-ended questions based on the candidate’s resume. For example.
- Can you elaborate on how you were able to increase efficiency in your last role by 30%?
- In your opinion, what is the best way to engage a team within a matrix organization, with different backgrounds and experience. How would you maximum collaboration?
- If you were VP of Sales, what strategies or changes would you implement in the first 3 months?
- What are the top 3 core competencies you value most for your team?
- What was your most meaningful professional experience, and what was the take-away from that experience?
An interviewer is there to assess not just the qualifications of the candidate, but whether he or she will be a good fit to the company culture. There’s no point in hiring someone who just thinks fast on their feet, or has a canned answer prepared. Interviews should be conducted in a more open way, engaging all levels of the team, not just HR and the hiring manager.
It takes time to dig deeper and truly understand the person in front of us. What they can bring to the table, what interest them, what motivates them? We need to listen and understand, in other words, we need to treat them like a real person.