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Interviews: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Written by Neil Mawdsley Posted in Interviews

Interviews: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

A recent blog post looked at how to make a good impression at an interview and included a range of really useful tips. I’d like to follow on with the interview theme and consider one of the top 5 interview questions namely –  Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I remember being asked that question early on in my career and still squirm when I think of the feeble attempt I made answering the question. On reflection I didn’t know how to answer the question because I hadn’t given sufficient thought to my future goals and plans. I was one of 90% of the population that are focused in the past not the future. It’s a bit like getting into a taxi after a night out, when the driver asks you “where do you want to go" and you reply, “Oh just take me anywhere.”

Not long after the interview which as I’m sure you’ve guessed  I didn’t get the job, I came across a really powerful idea used by sports people including my two boyhood heroes Muhammed Ali – the famous 3 time world boxing champion and Jack Nicklaus arguably the best golfer ever.  The technique they both use is called Visioning or Future Thinking.  Muhammed Ali was famous for predicting the round he would knock out his opponent.  When interviewed about how he did it he talked about “Going to the Movies” and imagining the fight in vivid detail over and over again in his mind’s eye.  Apparently the brain and body  can’t distinguish between imagination and reality.  So the formula for success in work and life generally seems to be Imagination x Vividness = Reality.   The x is there for repetition which is the mother of all life skills!

Many businesses have now adopted this technique and have built the concept in to their planning frameworks.

But merely thinking about the future is sometimes not enough as the following longitudinal study illustrates. In the 1950’s a group of Harvard graduates in the US were asked about their goals for the future. Now perhaps not surprisingly, (you’d have to be a real numpty not to have at least some vague goals and plans)the vast majority did have aspirations and goals. They were then asked how many had committed these goals to paper and written them down, only 3% had. The researchers followed the students for the next 30 years and discovered an amazing fact; the 3% were worth financially more that the 97% combined. Coincidence – I don’t think so!

Therefore, as long as your goals stay in your head they will remain dreams!

So the moral of this blog post: If you want to be successful in life, work and pretty much everything for that matter:

•Think about the future

•Write your goals down

•And finally make sure you think big!

About the Author

Neil Mawdsley

Neil Mawdsley

Apart from a stint as a coffee shop owner, Neil has worked in education and training for most of his career. Although he started out teaching history where his main claim to fame was a pupil feinting during a perhaps over elaborate description of the Ancient Egyptian mummification process, he soon found his true vocation – teaching young people employability and enterprise skills. Neil has a particular interest and expertise in Personal Finance Education as well as enjoying designing learning materials and activities to make learning fun and engaging.

When asked what he enjoys most about his role at TCHC he commented: “Only the other day on a lunch time shopping trip to Watford High Street I met a former MGN student. Whilst chatting the former learner said that he wouldn’t have got his new job without my help and encouragement. The advice and the practical interview workshop made all the difference.” Feedback like this is the best job satisfaction there is!

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