Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Sima Dahl, who spoke at a social media conference I wrote about, posed a question on LinkedIn answers recently.  She asked, “Recruiters, how do you advise candidates to answer the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
There were numerous answers from recruiters but the one I truly liked was from someone by the name of Dan who stated, “…I am here to do the best job I can TODAY.”
I love that answer!  As someone else wrote in the responses, the question above is really a rather silly one.  5 years is a huge amount of time in any corporation and anything at all can happen.  You department could expand, or be eliminated.  The company could be bought out, or close down.  There really isn’t anything, in my opinion, that you could say that doesn’t actually sound like BS.  Of course you’d say that you want to see yourself growing a department, or being in expert in such and thus, or better yet contributing to the bottom line.  Who WOULDN’T want those things for a company?  Now if you happen to ask the question and get an answer completely out of left field, you may be successful in easily eliminating a candidate, but more likely than none you’re just killing several minutes of an interview.
None the less, you should always prepare for this kind of question.  But here is why I like Dan’s response.  It allows you to show your knowledge of the company so far.  You can talk about how you fit in to the position and why as well as highlighting some things that perhaps as a pair of fresh eyes you see yourself working on, such as marketing collateral, or how a certain product is made.  You can tell the hiring manager or HR manager what you would do in the short term based on what you know. 
This is why I LOVE the 30-60-90 plan.  As I’ve previously mentioned, one of the key take away’s I left with my  manager when interviewing for my current job was a 30-60-90 plan that I had created based on what I knew from the job description and my own skill set.  I outlined what I planned to achieve in the first three months, making my managers life that much easier.  She didn’t have to guess if I was going to be forward thinking or if I could get the job done, because my first 90 days, the most critical 90 days, were already goal oriented and if I wasn’t able to meet those goals, unless there were extraordinary circumstances, I could in all honesty be asked to leave.
So, answer the question in what you can do for the company TODAY and take it a step at a time.  Anything can happen in five years but make it clear that you are an asset that shouldn’t be passed up on to get the company to its five year goal, whatever that might be!
What did you do today?

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