Interviewing Questions Series: 3-4 of 29
Answers to popular (and sometimes tricky) questions you might hear in your next interview. Suggestions and requests are welcome in the comments. If you are currently a job seeker, a great way to help you prepare for the interview is to prepare a brief answer to all of the questions here. Download all of the questions here: Interview Prep Guide.
“Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?”
Generally, we start off with what someone wants to hear, but in this case let’s discuss what they DON’T want to hear. The three main landmines to avoid are:
1) You want to start your own company
It sounds like common sense, but if you are interviewing for a paying job at a company, you should not divulge any personal plans or dreams you may have of entrepreneurship down the road. Companies want to hire someone who wants to be there, so try to focus on a logical career path that this position might offer rather than exposing personal goals that have nothing to do with working there. While you might see an advantage to having worked there that you can capitalize on as an entrepreneur down the road, the interview is not the time to discuss that.
2) You want to go back to school
Even if the company touts its support of continuing education as a benefit, you should not discuss how you want to use that in the interview. Focus instead on how you would like to have responsibility and possibly take on a role that requires more leadership rather than how you will use the program to obtain your MBA, CPA or another advanced degree or credential.
3) You want their job
Telling someone you want their job is often just offensive; they don’t think it’s funny and it doesn’t express drive and enthusiasm for success like you might think that comment would. A better strategy for success is discussing a logical career path that isn’t focused on a particular job title, but rather a career oriented position in the same field, having assumed more responsibility and contributing to the overall goals of the organization at a higher level.
“Why does this job interest you?”
This answer should focus on what you will be doing in the position as well as the corporate culture, but not all one or the other. Choose 2-3 areas of the actual work they need to have done in the position that you enjoy; perhaps something that really makes use of one of your particular strengths. Also, choose 1 or 2 items about the company’s culture, values, or other environment focused areas that you particularly align with. You will need to have done your research on the company’s website prior to the interview to prepare this question. In non-profit organizations, they want to hear that you are committed to their cause. At a for-profit company they want to know that you will easily assimilate into their corporate culture.
At this point, don’t talk about benefits, commute, money, or other areas that are technically specific to you. Those are all great reasons to happily accept a role that you find challenging, but all of those things can all change, so stay focused on the work duties.