There is a lot of information out there about where to look for job openings, how to improve your resume and how to be more valuable to your employer. However, sometimes we forget to think about the most important part of a job search, the interview questions. It is fantastic to find the perfect job listing and have your resume all set to go, but if you are not ready to handle the job interview questions, it is all irrelevant.
For many of us, our deepest fear is being asked a question in an interview and not knowing the answer. Employers have to ensure they are asking the right questions to get the right person. As a matter of fact, it is very likely that the interviewer is much less prepared than we are, searching Google at the last second to find a list of job interview questions.
The much bigger issue is we get nervous because we do not think our answers are good enough. We are afraid to tell our prospective employer what we really think. Sometimes with good reason. More often than not, it is the result of a fear of failure. Always remember, when you go to a job interview, you are interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you, at least you should be.
Anyhow, we still need to answer the job interview questions, so here are a few thoughts for you on how to do that.
A Little Humor Chases Away the Fear
It is always good to lighten the mood a bit and try to use some humor. You should actually be doing that from the moment you arrive, not too much, just enough to get everyone smiling and take some of the tension away. This in turn will chip away at your fear of failure. A little humor or wit can make a good impression when answering job interview questions.
If you are asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Here are some witty or slightly clever answers; just make sure you say them with a smile on your face…
- “Probably back here, interviewing with you for the 10th time in five years. I think this position is perfect for me. If you don’t hire me today I will keep coming back until you do.”
- “Probably in a place and circumstances that I never imagined possible. Doesn’t life always work like that?”
- “Walking into your office with a cupcake that has 5 candles in it. We will, of course, have to celebrate the fifth anniversary of you asking me this question.”
Anyway, you get the idea. Hopefully, one of those answers or a similar answer, will get a smile and a little laugh. Of course, you will still have to answer the question and the rest of the job interview questions.
Honesty is Always a Good Policy
Try to be as honest as possible when answering job interview questions. It is important that the employer knows what you really want and what your goals are. If you feel like you have to hide your true intentions then the job is probably not a good fit anyhow.
In terms of answering these types of job interview questions, think about what it is you want to be doing every day five years from now.
- Do you want to spend your days in an office?
- Do you want to travel?
- Would you want to give presentations in front of hundreds of people?
- Do you want a job that allows you to work outside?
- Suit and tie or jeans?
- Slow and relaxed environment or fast paced and hands on?
Focus on the General Characteristics of the Interview Question
Once you figure out why you are being asked a particular question, it becomes easier to answer. Here are some thoughts on how you should seriously answer the question “Where do you want to be in 5 years.”
“In 5 years, I want to be in a position where I lead other people. I have always been good at getting people to work together and communicating my vision to others. An opportunity down the road for me to lead a large group of people, in a fast-paced environment, where I am constantly challenged by different issues on a daily basis and an opportunity to earn more than $50,000 per year, is where I would like to be.”
That answer could be used in a number of industries and positions. It is general enough to apply to most situations and specific enough to let the employer know what your goals are. Here are the areas you should think about when answering this question.
- Job Setting-Inside or outside? Stationary or mobile? Office cubicle or traveling salesperson?
- Job Environment-Fast paced and multi-tasking or slow and analytical?
- Position-Manager or concentrating on one specific job? Getting your hands dirty or wearing a suit?
- Opportunity-Range of financial expectations – six figures or hourly work? Corporate 7-day work schedule or 5 days a week?
- Interaction-People person or introvert?
Interview the Interviewer
Remember that when you are on a job interview, you are interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you, at least you should be. An interview should be more of a conversation versus a question and answer session. Of course, questions have to be asked but the manner in which they are asked should not be one-sided.
Accepting a job with a company that is completely wrong for you because you did not ask the right questions will mean a lot of long days. If the job is not a good fit, your fear of failure will likely increase. No one wants that burden.
All businesses perform a single task of delivering a solution to a problem. Interviewing is a step towards finding the right person to meet a specific need of the business. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to answer any question thrown at you by turning the fear of failure into an action plan to help you land the job.
One thing to always remember with the “5 year” question is that they want to know if you are worth the investment. Hiring and training can be costly. If your goal is not to be as invested in them as they would be with you, then they will move on to someone whose goals match theirs.
Interviewing is one of those things that gets better with practice. Get a list of interview questions and write down your answers. Read them aloud to ensure the answers make sense. Then PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! The next time you hear a question that once made your palms sweat, you will now be confident in answering.
Related: Confidence Goes A Long Way