How Lame Is Asking Someone “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”

Job Interview


Many years ago, an influential figure in the management field questioned the significance of asking candidates “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”, and the fact that it was embraced by recruiters as a standard interview question. But what if it’s actually meaningless and bears no realistic answer?

For starters, this question contradicts the concept of time and how the universe operates.

Theoretically a person’s timeline consists of three points; a past that forever vanished, a future that is yet to be created and a present that scientists still cannot objectively define. This timeline is governed by unforeseen factors that could change direction at any given moment!

If this is too much to digest, just think about the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and you’ll understand my point here.

On a spiritual level, “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?” reflects a false sense of full control over factors that shape the future, which contradicts the whole concept of a higher power controlling the show here on earth.

We predict the future based on past and present inputs, and the more stable external factors are, the more likely and meaningful our predictions become.

However, since the lifespan of an employee’s career —especially in the private sector— is always fragile due to many external factors, a five-year prediction sounds more like wishful thinking.

The idea here is not to suggest that planning is a meaningless process, or even belittle its role in self-development, but rather to explore the validity of this question and its relevancy to judge one’s potential or character.

Asking such a question and expecting an insightful and honest answer that would enrich your assessment as an employer does not make much sense. Instead, you could always go for “Where do you see yourself now?” as a more realistic alternative that provides the same insight you’re seeking.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Business Reel.


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