How to Answer Those Hard Questions
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Or tell me about yourself.
You can nail every other aspect of an interview and still have these two questions stop you cold if you’re not prepared and prepared answers sound just like that, something practiced again and again until it disingenuous even if it’s not. These are the dread questions, the one that blank your mind and make you forget about aspects of yourself or question how you can compress the entirety of your life experiences into five minutes.
Well everyone is different but I think I have a solution that may prove useful for your average, entry level employee with no real specialized skills –as defined by potential employers. As a whole college students and people fresh out of university are creatures of change, in the single greatest transitional period of their lives. And employers know this, especially employers with children around your age. Your twenties are a time when just about everything changes as you begin to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. You’re going to make mistakes, most of you are going to screw your credit up royally, you’re going to have epiphanies about yourself and your place in the world, and you’re going to begin to understand why politics really matters even if you’ll start by just half paying attention. And unfortunately you’re going to fail, A LOT.
That’s alright, it’s just another part of learning how to ‘adult’.
I’m not going to sit on this high pedestal and pretend that I haven’t made my fair share of mistakes. Financial issues had me moving out of my apartment and back in with my folks after about three months forcing my roommates to find another third. I own that mistake and understand where I went wrong so I won’t make the same mistakes again and will actively seek out the resources to make my goals far more realistic. So I failed. But from that failure I learned a lot about living on my own even though I had roommates. Like how much I will actually spend on groceries, water, electricity, internet, ect.
So what does failure have to do with answering interview questions about yourself?
Well like I said your twenties are a period of transition and your answers to those questions should reflect that. Even if you don’t know what you want to be post college you should have some idea of who you want to be within reason and be taking steps towards being that. For example I want to be more financially responsible and deal with impulsiveness frequently so I opened a second bank account with Ally Bank which doesn’t have a physical location into which the paychecks from my second job are deposited directly. The only access to that bank account I have is online and transferring money between my secondary (Ally) bank account and primary (Chase) account is annoying because it’s not instant.
I can say proudly that I have no idea how much money I have in my Ally account and honestly I don’t want to know. That’s the money I am saving to move out, pay for any medical bills or for car problems, and the automatic payment that’s made on my credit card twice a month. That’s something about myself and something that I am actively changing so I’ll tell my employer about that. It sound stupid but in doing that I am demonstrating that I understand my strengths and weakness and I am doing something that helps me become a more responsible person and this a more responsible employee.
Another example from my own life I that I started working out for various reasons but mainly because I’m the youngest and just turned 23, my parents are in their fifties and so are their siblings. I’m starting to see the negative impacts a mostly sedentary life has on the bodies of those I share a direct genetic link with. Meaning that their problems may very well manifest in me. If I start working out now I won’t have that problem in the future, I started with Darebee program Age of Pandora that requires 100 Half Jack Squats, which are murder on your quads. I also had previously resolved myself to running a mile a night as soon as I got off work, because it was my day off I decided to start the program and then run a mile. About three hundred feet in I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to run that mile so instead I walked it and did push-ups at every block. . The push-ups were hard but I split them into sets of five so that they were more manageable.
Right, so you’re employer knows that you work out. How is that helpful answering those interview questions?
Well if the guy interviewing you knows anything about the selection process and wasn’t selected on a whim to do your interview s/he’ll know why you bothered to share that. It shows determination and dedication, you said you’d do a thing and you did it and even if you didn’t (e.i. I walked that mile and did push-ups to make up for the fact I didn’t run) it shows that you’re serious when you put your mind to something. I know that that seems like a small thing but it can be the difference between having a job and not having a job. Instead of telling them all about the things that you have done, tell them about the person that you want to be and the steps that you’ve taken to be that person. It can make all the difference.
So next time you’re interviewing for a job and they ask you about yourself, sure tell them all about the volunteer work that you do and then tell them about a life goal you have for yourself and what you’re doing to achieve it instead of trying to come up with something from your past that sounds impressive. Self-improvement is always impressive when you mean it, especially if it’s long ranged.