Friday, April 19, 2013

Question that stumps me in the interview

All the interviews I have ever faced in my professional life so far have had questions of 2 types. One category is very operational. Easy, difficult but all the while manageable questions. 

Then the other category has 2 questions, one that starts the interview and one that closes the interview for me. I have had my field days with these two questions all along. 

Over the years, I have tried making peace with one of the two.  I have tried being honest with it. 

So, the one that I have managed to stay honest to:

Q. Why did you move from CA to advertising?

I remember this question being a little difficult to handle initially. No amount of preparation could help me crack this one convincingly. Then I realized that if I have to nail this, I need to be plain-honest and state the facts as they were. On why I never liked the numbers and on why I could not see myself doing it for next 20-30 odd years. After that, I have always been myself when I answer this question. 

And now, the one question that continues to stump me..

Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Happy with whatever I may be doing then? Content with work? More sure of my choice of doing what I may be doing then? Be passionate in whatever I may be doing then?

Well, these are the answers that come in my head and on my lips and I find out the answers the person sitting right opposite to me is looking for are not these. She may want to hear a detailed career plan that sees me achieving something tangible and not just the ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’ or ‘passion’. 

I don’t know where I will be or what I will be doing 6 months from today. 5 years is a long time and I am not one of those to have an extensive career followed by a retirement plan. Knowing that I started late in advertising, I have some way to go. Still I am not conditioned to think of a future. May be I have a commitment phobia. I just want to take each day as it comes. Have always done that and shall continue doing it. 

I want to stay honest with this one too but the confused look and expressions on that person’s face kill the mood to being honest. The look says, ‘Really enough with the happiness alright. But don’t you want to rise up to say, my level?’ I try. And I know may be some day someone will understand that being happy in five years from now is more important than a raise in profile or money. Some day. Till then, sirs and madams, I may sound all nice and awesome and confident but this question stumps me. Really. Every single time.

P.S I was talking to a guy once, and he asked me this same question. I excused myself from the conversation and never ever got back to him! So, this question is spreading and leaking into personal life too. That is scary!


  1. OMG! Where do you see yourself five years from now? in a personal conversation!! :D :D This sure is scary! Good you abandoned your talk with him :D

  2. where do you want to be five years from now still stumps me !! Though now I have graduated to asking this question to people I interview I dont like it when I am asked this question !

  3. Great "Q" post and one I enjoyed,


  4. Question number two is sadistic .Guys who ask that question have been subjected to that torture at some point in their lives so they just want to see other people squirm the same way as they did...and the tradition is carried on.
    If any one asks me that ,ever,I will say with a straight face-sir/madam,I will be present very close on your heels,following you at every step.I think that should make the person take to his/her heels promptly :D

  5. The interview question 'what are your weaknesses' always got me. Should you tell them about your addiction to chocolate or that you sometimes oversleep or keeping up with your admin? If you say you have no weaknesses, are you too good to be true?

  6. Living in the moment is how I go about life-- career plans are overrated imho. :)

    Hope you’ve enjoyed the challenge so far.
    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    AZ blogs on Social Media

  7. The five year question always irritates me! Imagine a guy asking you that - good that you dumped him!

  8. yucks the 'scary' what/where in 5 years leaking to the personal realm- why can't people live the moment . I have never really enjoyed the question when I was working.... nice post

  9. How can someone see what will happen 5 yrs later? Height of Stupidity.

  10. The 5 year prediction-seek seems to be commonest questions they ask at the interview and expect you to conjure up some really 'wall street' kinda responses. :)

  11. Actually, I think that is a question that you *should* ask yourself. It really is not an unreasonable one, provided you are career-oriented. People don't want to hire you and find out that you will quit soon after. So, they want to know that you have a career plan, otherwise, why would they go through the trouble of retaining you?

    What the interviewer really wants to know is whether you have given any thought to your career; do you know what you want out of it; are you ambitious; are you going to be a long-term employee? That's not unreasonable for them to want to know!

    Why don't you Google and figure out what kind of answer you would like to give. You don't have to swear to be faithful to advertising, so maybe you can make it more generic. But, it is something you will definitely get at every interview, so why not prepare for it?!

  12. Luckily I've never been asked this one. But if I was I'd probably answer with a "I like what I'm doing now and intend to continue in this for a little bit longer" and then I'd throw the ball in their court and ask them "How do you see this role evolve in the next 5 years" wait for an answer and then say "Perfect - that sounds like a good plan and that sounds exciting - it's the type of journey I'd like to take". In essence, let them give you the answer. If they can't give you an answer it will shut them up quite quickly and move onto the next question.