Interview Questions, Part II

Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is a hard question to answer. There is no good answer. I’ve tried, "working in this field". I’ve tried "working at this job." I’ve tried, "running for office." I’ve tried, "something that lets me blend my policy skills and my desire to provide direct services." I’ve tried, "doing something fulfilling but challenging with reasonable hours." I’ve tried, "helping people." None of these are good answers. How I know they aren’t good answers is that I didn’t get any of those jobs, and they weren’t necessarily the truth.

I can’t visualize myself in five years. In five years, I will be 31. I don’t know where I will be living, working, or what my family will look like. There are no one degree decisions in law, and therefore, I don’t know where my career is headed. In this economy, your career is like a snowball, rolling down a hill. It’s going to pick up snow and dirt and rocks and branches and you have no clue where it is going, you just hope it comes to a stop somewhere soft that doesn’t break it entirely.

In five years, I see myself working at a job I like, with people I like, doing work I like. I see myself trying to stay in elder law, or at the very least, public interest law. I see myself reaching for policy work to get results I can’t get in court. How do I make this sound appealing to somebody who is considering hiring me? How do I say, "if you hire me, I see myself working here in five years, but if I can’t make my career happen for me any other way, I will either run for office or start my own firm, but if you hire me, I won’t have to do those things, so how can you ask me that question?"

Like all interview questions, it’s a dumb question because it probably shows more of ourselves than we want to reveal, and it can be practiced but an overly rehearsed sounding answer is going to be as bad for me as one that I haven’t put any thought into at all. How would you prep for this?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Interview Questions, Part II

  1. I believe they are not looking for an honest answer here. They are looking to hear that you are still going to be with them (investing in a short term employee is a bad deal) and that you are going to do good things for them. No matter what job it is, answer this question that references you still with them and how you will grow with the firm/company.

  2. Lethe

    I hate this interview question! It’s a filler question that they ask instead of doing the hard work of actually reading the applicant’s materials and tailoring their questions to the individual. Keep in mind your previous answers weren’t necessarily bad…we lawyers get rejected from jobs these days for so much as breathing the wrong way, so it’s hard to attribute it to any particular answer. But yes, I guess I try to answer by explaining how I’d like my skills to have developed in that time with the company, and what leadership etc roles I would like to be taking on. Good to show ambition I assume.

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