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We are all afraid of bad hires. For this particular reason, HR heads try to suss out as much authentic information from candidates as possible to make sure they are a good fit for the company. However, simply being competent doesn’t automatically mean the candidate is a good fit – we want the one that stays.
Asking, “where do you see yourself in five years”, is a good way to start, and your goal with this question is to choose the candidate whose long-term growth plan aligns well with the opportunities your company can offer.
Glassdoor recently shared an article where recruiters from a software company give several heads-up about how to detect potential red flags from the candidates’ answers to this very question.
Below is a summary of their pointers and a few sample answers for your reference.
1. Candidates should be honest, but also prepared
Both Holly Peterson, senior recruiter at HubSpot, and Olivia Chin, technology recruiter at the tech company, value honesty.
Peterson thinks it’s OK for a candidate not knowing exactly where they see themselves in five years, but they should be prepared to share their thoughts surrounding the question. For example, a well-prepared candidate would say they would constantly seek growth opportunities in and outside the role, or they were willing to learn new skills as they went. These answers hint that the candidate has a growth mindset, which is a crucial trait to have.
2. Look for evidence to their claims
Let’s say the candidate has given a sound answer to the question, but does it mean it is truthful? Sometimes, job seekers may make up answers and try to impress you, and other times they just feel it is the right thing to say.
Don’t fall into the trap. As a recruiter, you may ask the candidate to back up their claims. If they can’t articulate their why, it often means they aren’t presenting their authentic self, which definitely is a red flag.
Also, Chin believes good candidates are those who can give tangible and measurable answers. Their answers should show they have a good understanding of the company, and that they have personal drive.
3. How much do they know about the company
The candidate’s answer shows how much research they have done about the company and the role. If their answer is drastically off, for example, mistaking an MNC environment for a start-up or mentioning about certain schemes that are not offered at your company, chances are the candidate doesn’t know much about the company.
Good responses to: “Where do you see yourself in five years.”
1. “As a social media manager, I’d like to focus short-term on developing my skill set to become incredibly proficient on the job. Then, in five years’ time, I’d like to have become adept at design and know how to use programs such as Photoshop — ideally, I’d take online or evening courses to help with this. I have an interest in video marketing, and I think there’s a compelling alignment between social media and video, and it could be interesting to figure out how to intersect those passions long-term to help grow your social media audience.”
Reasons: Clear and progressive planning with concrete actions that will help them achieve their five-year goal.
2. “My goal is to find a company where I can grow my career and develop new professional skills. In five years, I imagine I’d like to be in a leadership position – additionally, I’m interested in learning more about the content strategy side of the business. However, I find it most important to find a company that encourages continuous learning, as yours does.”
Reasons: The answer shows a growth mindset and a good understanding of the company (encourage continuous learning).
3. “In five years I’d like to have developed a deep expertise of video strategy and how to use video to promote brands, which is why I’m excited about this position. I know my role will require me to become a master at video, which aligns well with my long-term goals. Additionally, in a few years, I could see myself enjoying the project management aspect of video strategy as well.”
Reasons: Shows strong personal drive (excited about the position because of their interest in video strategy).
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