Friday, July 23, 2010

An impossible question

The woman interviewing me by phone last night caught me off-guard with a question I knew was coming, but yet I had no idea what to say.

"Where do you see yourself in three years?" she asked in the middle of my fourth job interview in the past 13 months.

"I really have no clue," I foolishly, yet honestly, stated. "Hopefully in Pittsburgh, and hopefully with a secure company."


But what was I supposed to say? Forget three years from now, I don't know where I'll be three months or even three days from now. It's a typical job interview question that probably is designed to measure your goals and priorities. And it's a question I had answered with ease in previous job interviews during my journalism career. I wanted to write for a NASCAR or sports publication, although those dreams are all but dead now.

Could I have ever imagined the correct answer to that question when the Observer-Reporter interviewed me in November 2006? "Well, I see myself struggling to pay my bills after you decide to can me -- along with 24 other people -- in the midst of a prolonged recession that essentially destroys the newspaper industry."

There is no good answer to that question when you're unemployed, because the most important goals are immediate: Finding work. After talking to my father about the interview, he offered an answer that might be appropriate should I be put on the spot again.

"Probably living in the gutter... unless you hire me!"



  1. I think your answer was fine. It was honest. I don't know if these interviewers are looking for honesty, or for someone to heap a load of bullshit on them. Bottom line, I think it's a dumb question.

  2. All the questions they ask seem to be stupid, but the goal is to get the applicant talking I guess.