In 5 Years’ Time

futureI very often ask during interviews: “If you had the chance to decide of it, what would you be doing in 5 years from now?” Or something very similar aimed at the not-so-near future.
It’s not because I lack imagination and I so much love classic ‘naïve’ interview questions.
I’m not asking you to predict the future. And I certainly won’t seek you out 5 years from now to see whether you followed your plan.
But your answer will tell me a lot about you.

People sometimes dismiss the question because we can’t know what the future is made of. They often state a career is full of unexpected twists and turns and unforeseen opportunities are constantly seized or missed. And I fully agree with them. Which is exactly why I would like you to tell me what you would like to be doing in 5 years.

We can’t seize opportunities if we are not open to them.
Which implies we have to be able to recognize them. To seize them, we need to size them up.
And the best way to assess them is to have something to compare them to.
If we can’t ‘measure’ the opportunities, how can we make educated decisions or on the contrary decide to ‘go for it’ on a hunch?

One of my friends was so much focused on his studies and preparing his career, that he never realized during his 3 years of Management School how much he was attractive to our fellow students of the female kind. To my knowledge he is still a bachelor 20 years later.

One of my acquaintance is finding everyday opportunities to buy stuff at a bargain. He is all the time mad at his incapacity to purchase every good deals. He is so gifted for finding products people sell without having the right idea of their true worth… He misses 2 points. First: you need to be really rich to buy cheap products & services all of the time. The people having that kind of money might not care. Second: you can only drive one car at a time, you can’t have much more than 4 full meals per day, and so on.
AN OPPORTUNITY IS ALMOST NEVER GOOD OR BAD IN ITSELF. It’s only got value for people who have a matching need.

I do not think there is a right answer to the question I ask; but I certainly think you should have YOUR answer.
Thinking about tomorrow does not prevent you from living the present, obviously, and I don’t ask you to be obsessed about next steps.

Before you go to a recruitment interview, I sincerely hope you took 2 minutes in order to cease focusing on your daily routines and your current activities, and to ponder about what you would like to do now & a little further down the road… To think, maybe, about how the proposed job fits your projects, the current AND future ones.
Seems only logical.
And in all honesty, seems only fair to the persons for whom this recruitment matters.

To a certain extent, the content of your answer is not very important to me. What matters is that your are not passive, that you are not a leaf blown by the wind. I would like you to be a surfer: choose your waves and ride them the best you can.

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