Re: Interview questions

Subject: Re: Interview questions
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 1997 13:56:10 -0800

Megan Elizabeth Mc Macken wrote:
> It seems that one of the favorite questions of
> all interviewers is, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Where do
> people get the idea that that's a good interview question? I'm just
> finishing college, and I really have no idea where I'll be in five years.

And I haven't a clue as to why people would ask you that, except as a
way of getting you to talk about yourself. I agree, it's a dumb
question. However, since you've run into it, here's what I'd like to
here if I were doing the asking.

The pace of technological development has accelerated so much in the
last five years (e.g., the web and internet-related activities seemed to
come from nowhere about three years ago; who'd have predicted MSNBC five
years ago?; even this newsgroup and groups like it didn't exist five
years ago) that there is little use in forecasting what you'll be doing
in five years. You can probably predict that you'll be involved with
technology, and that it will involve some sort of technical
communication, but that may be writing for ink-on-paper publications, or
for online publications, or for something else nobody can reasonably
predict at the moment.

At that point you can assume you've captured your interviewer's
attention, and you can engage this person in a speculative dialog about
where the internet is headed, the arrival of the truly "global
village," how technology should serve people's needs, etc. At which
point you are demonstrating that you know how to interview other people,
sorta, that you can brainstorm with the best of 'em, that you're
comfortable being adaptable to new ideas, etc.

When I interview people, what I'm looking for is the ability to learn
and to adapt to changing circumstances, along with some demonstrated
ability to use technical tools and explain/teach processes.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems
> I haven't had a real technical writing job yet, so I'm after a job where
> I'll have a chance to get some solid experience in the technical writing
> field. My first job will greatly influence my goals for five years from
> now.
> How have the rest of you responded to this type of question in an
> interview? I want to be ethical and as honest as possible, but I feel like
> I'll come across poorly if I tell them, "You know, I honestly have no idea
> where I'll be in five years. I could make all sorts of plans and set any
> number of goals, but those things could be changed in a day by
> circumstances beyond my control."

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