This is a variation on, “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now,” by going back in time and asking whether or not you achieved those goals. It’s tricky in a very subtle way.
One-way you might answer the question is, “5 years ago, I thought what I wanted to do was such and such and I set out a variety of benchmarks for myself to achieve that objective and clearly, I did. There is more texture to the answer that but that’s the theme of the first question.
Here is another one that I think is much more subtle. “5 years ago, I set out and objective of such and such, and, as I was working toward doing that, I saw another possible path that was even more intriguing to me. So, I did a pivot at that point. I started to change directions and focus on that. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I bounce from idea to idea. I don’t. But this is something that clearly was much more interesting and challenging to me and I made a conscious shift in direction and hit those targets and exceeded them tremendously.”
What you’re showing that you are flexible. You are showing that you are creative and that when you see an opportunity you’ll shift on a dime toward it. As such, it’s a different layer of an answer. In the 1st one, you are saying, “I had a goal. I set out to achieve my goal. I accomplished that. Again, nothing wrong with that answer, and a lot of firms want to hear that answer. Whether you want to work for a firm that only wants that answer is a different question, but, understand that for a lot of firms, they want to hear the answer of, “I set a goal for myself. This is my goal. I set benchmarks for myself for achieving that goal. I accomplished it.”
There are many more firms, I believe, that want to hear you say, “I set a goal for myself as I learned more, I found that this other area was even more appealing to me. As a result, I made a pivot at that point. I set out new goals for myself and accomplished them. I am not someone who bounces from idea to idea like they are bright shiny objects. I made one strategic change here and set out new goals for myself and was able to accomplish it.
So, I have given 2 ways to answer the question. Whatever is true for you,
is the right way to answer the question and whether the organization likes it or not says a lot about them and whether or not you would be successful and appropriate for them.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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