What was the last goal that you set for yourself? I’m not talking about a New Year’s resolution; I’m talking about a well thought out goal. The kind that the more you thought about it, the more you could taste it. And the more you tasted it, the more you wanted it. And the more you wanted it, the more you visualized it/focused on it. And the more you visualized it and focused on it, the more real it became.

Most of us don’t stop and think long enough about what we really want in our careers or where we see ourselves in five years. Yet, when it comes up in a job interview, it’s usually one of those questions that can derail the interview.

Why do employers ask this question, and in all honesty, do they really care about your response? Rather than getting frustrated in trying to come up with some lofty answer that could literally tank your interview, try using some of these coaching strategies I’ve been learning about lately in my Certified Brain-Based Success Coach class through The Academies with Susan Whitcomb.

1)     Take a minute to think about what you have to be grateful for. Finding gratitude in a situation is an important step in training the neurons to form new pathways and change our thinking patterns. Ask yourself how do you want to feel in this new job? In my experience with job seekers, most people want to feel valued while being able to use their strengths and help their coworkers. They want to feel like they are making a difference. Many of my clients inform me that they want to feel energized and positive and leave work with that “good kind of tired” feeling at the end of the day.

„  Action Step: Focus on some things you are grateful for about this opportunity. What feelings or emotions come to mind? Take a moment to name these feelings and identify them. What do you like about these feelings? How are they different from what you’re experiencing in your current position and/or job search?

2)     How do you want to spend your day? What actions will you be performing? I’m not talking about the listed job duties. I’m talking about what kinds of thinking, feeling, and doing actions that will take place each day as you perform this new job, interact with your co-workers, customers, and anyone else that crosses your path. What new skills or information will you be learning? What do you see yourself doing in this job and how is it different for you?

„  Action Step: Take some time (about 68 seconds) to visualize yourself in this job and pay attention to how you feel and the kinds of emotions it stirs up within you. Take an additional 68 seconds to breathe deeply, and look beyond the immediacy of this job opportunity. What other opportunities could develop along the way?

 3)     Try setting some goals for yourself as you visualize yourself in this new position. Even if you can’t specifically determine where you see yourself five years from now, what possibilities seem to develop for you by having this job. What seems new? How are things different for you? (Note: if you didn’t go through the first two action steps, it will likely be difficult to answer these questions) What options are available to you now that weren’t available before? What would it be like to live out one of those options?

„  Action Step: Commit to one of those options by writing it down. What is it about this particular option that seems best for you? What aspects of achieving this goal can you influence, control, and commit to? If you landed this job, how would that help you in attaining that specific goal?

As you develop some personal career goals as well as a strategy about how you want to achieve those goals, you’re now in a better position to be able to answer the question without blurting out something that doesn’t sound believable. Worse yet, you won’t blurt out something that will completely turn the interviewer off. Hopefully, the more you really think about your career in this way, the clearer things may become, and the easier these questions will be to answer.

When it comes to formulating your answer, remember this: the interviewer is looking for five primary things in your answer:

  1. Do you have a solid grasp of the position and what it entails?
  2. Do you have the right attitude?
  3. Are you going to be dependable?
  4. Are you a good cultural and social fit for the organization?
  5. How are you going to use your strengths to achieve success in this job?


If you’re seeking career coaching help or other assistance in managing your career, please contact me.