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On the long list of potential job interview questions, there are a few that stand out as particularly daunting. Even after rehearsing a response in the mirror for hours, applicants may still get tripped up in the interview process. A Forbes article points out one of the challenging question asked by recruiters all the time that essentially tells you nothing about the applicant: where do you see yourself in five years?

This question is not likely to trip up seasoned professionals who have a strong handle on what they want to do or how to answer the question in a non-threatening but still motivated manner; but for the entry level candidate, this question can be a real problem. A generic answer leaves you a generic candidate.

As the article points out, there are at least three answers that all have dead-end results:

1) “I see myself doing this same job in five years.” This response reveals a candidate with very low ambition.

2) “I see myself doing this job until I get a better job.” This is most likely the last response any interview wants to hear because it basically means the applicant has no intention of staying for long or much interest in the job.

3) “I see myself doing your job in five years.” While some recruiters may appreciate this response and its implied challenge, others may frown upon it as it is a threatening response to your potential supervisor.

Candidates unsure of what to say should ask  a mentor or contact in the field what a proper response for this question is. But what would be even better is if recruiters could change the types of question they choose to ask.

For instance, what if the interviewer chose instead how the applicant finances the things that they love or how this job will work to the candidate’s strengths?

If the person finds innovative ways to enjoy their life, it’s probable that they will bring that same creative spirit to the job. A candidate that makes sacrifices for the things she loves doing, will also make sacrifices for the job if that’s what they enjoy doing. Finally if a candidate enjoys what they do, where they’ll be in five years is irrelevant. Their passion and enjoyment on the job will help motivate them to continue with the company, happily finding new challenges and solutions in their job to improve the work environment.

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