The dumbest interview question

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Apr 27

There are hundreds of interview questions. Few of them get to the heart of all interview questions only have three answers. But some interview questions are just dumb. My vote for the dumbest interview question:

What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

You know what the only answer is to this question? “I have no clue.”  That’s the only answer. No clue. Given the pace of business today, the dynamics of the economy and your personal situation, defining for a hiring manager where you think you will be in your career five years from now is either delusional or making something up.

What were you doing five years ago?

Just think about where you were five years ago today. And then say to yourself, “If someone would have told me five years ago that I would be in this situation today,” would you believe it?

Not me. Consider the last five years of my life:

Five years ago, I was working in Chicago-land for the largest savings and loan in the country. Working on the business side of a call center. Since then:

  • I moved 1700 miles from Chicago-land to Seattle-land
  • Worked in four(?) different jobs for four different managers
  • Worked in technology instead of the business for the largest savings and loan in the country
  • Got laid off
  • The largest savings and loan in the country went bust
  • Started my own business

Sure, I could have predicted that; no sweat.

What will determine what you do five years from now?

When a hiring manager asks you what you see yourself doing five years from now, consider what trouble your career could be in working for this hiring manager. Sure, they want to see if you are future-oriented; I get that.

But a career isn’t a five year plan; too many changes occur in business and life.

Instead, a career is only three parts: finding excitement in your work, building your job skills and performing well in your work. Those three parts lead to this: opportunities will be presented to you. What you do with the opportunities is what you will be doing five years from now. Your current five year plan is obsolete the minute you walk into work today.

What are the dumbest interview questions you’ve had to answer?

  • Scot says:

    My response to that question would be that “the good managers of my past have given me work that reflect my strengths so that they would best use my abilities to achieve their goals.”

    Like I’d try and conjure up imaginary weakness statements from managers who I’m no longer associated with…

    And I agree that not getting this interview is a good thing. Companies forget that this is a two-way street; you are giving them job skills that they pay you for to achieve their goals. If all they want are people they can beat on by focusing on their weaknesses, well, I’ll pass on that.

    Always good to hear actual questions coming from interviews. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Phyllis says:

    In a recent phone interview, I was asked “what would my former bosses say are my weaknesses?” Who knows what someone, especially a former boss, would say is your weakness. Needless to say I didn’t get to the next interview stage. Probably a good thing since the interviewer came across as a bit of a jerk even on the phone.

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