‘Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?’

If a candidate answers this cliched interview question confidently, they are assessed favourably since they have a vision and are goal-oriented.

If I am asked this question, my response would be to ask the interviewer what they were doing 5 years ago. Further, I would ask them if they correctly predicted 5 years ago what they are be doing now. In a majority of cases, their current role would vary wildly from the one they had planned 5 years ago.

This interview question falls for the teleological fallacy – the illusion that you know exactly where you are going, you knew exactly where you were going in the past, and that others have succeeded in the past by knowing where they were going. In most cases, we aren’t tied down by fixed plans, but rather adapt them on the fly based on new information we receive.

Further, this flexibility is desirable in an employee – I would rather hire somebody who can adapt to changing conditions than somebody who follows a five-year-plan like religious dogma.

Most five-year plans are practically useless – they are too optimistic and inflexible for the real world. Unless you want candidates who are just as useless, you should discard this question from your interviews.

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