TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Don Smith wrote:
> Comment: (Re-"Where do you expect to be in 5 years?")
> This seems to imply that you must be a "highly aggressive" person who
> is "upward mobile", out to concore the world. Why? Does this mean that
> a Technical Writer who likes what he/she does and does not want to
> become management, go from job to job or considers money as the only
> career goal, as someone inferior. <snip>
Good point, which also points out another important use of the "Where do you want to be in x years" questions -- finding out as a manager what your employees/prospective employees want out of their career.
One of the first and biggest mistakes I made when I started managing was assuming that all tech writers wanted the same things from their career as I do from mine. I had a writer who was very good at his job, and as the company grew I gave him more and more project management responsibility, without asking if he wanted it. He turned around and quit. He wanted to be a writer, not a project leader or future manager.
I use the "where do you expect to be" question in interviews and in reviews. I request honesty and I listen. Really good writers can be hard to find. If I have one, whether they want to be doing the same job in 5 years and be up on the latest technology, or they have management aspirations, it is my job to do what I can to help them reach their goals while doing their current job effectively.
I think you have to have an answer prepared for this type of question (I don't know doesn't cut it with me. Take the time to think about it. I'm not going to hold you to what you say and check in on you in 5 years). However second guessing what the interviewer wants you to say isn't going to get you where you want to be -- if you guess right it may just get you into a job and career path that you don't like.