Even if this question isn’t specifically asked in the interview, it will be the elephant in the room. With this in mind, what do you need to consider when answering the question “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” E M Forster, novelist.
Passion is a powerful force which allows us to perform at our best and achieve what we never thought was possible. It’s no wonder employers look for it in interviews.
In my career as an executive coach, I’ve found that many of my clients struggle to show this side of their personality. Yet tapping into your energy flow is really important, as it builds a strong rapport with the hiring manager and influences key decisions in your favour.
I’ve outlined below three approaches that will help you communicate your enthusiasm in a way that feels natural to you.
Many of my clients feel uneasy expressing themselves in a passionate way. If you’re a naturally soft spoken person with a low key style, telling impactful stories about the value you’ve added in previous roles can provide an alternative path to hook your audience.
If you’re still uncomfortable talking about your strengths, try instead highlighting what you love about your job. So for example instead of saying you’ve strong leadership skills, you could say that you really enjoy leading teams and getting the best out of people. You could then go on to give an example of where you led a team through a reorganisation, overcame significant resistance, kept a high team morale and increased productivity through upskilling and coaching.
It’s all about the why
By explaining why you’re interested in working for a particular company, you’ll create a connection with the hiring manager. Explaining how your values align and why you’d love to be part of what they do is powerful. For example a client of mine was going for a management position in a homeless charity. By talking about the voluntary work they’d done in the sector, they showed a deep knowledge of the environment and how close it was to their heart. Likewise, a client going for a Head of Finance role in a gaming company familiarised themselves with their products. By playing the games they demonstrated both their love of the product and the level of their commitment to the role.
As part of the coaching process, I give my clients feedback on how their answers land on me. I often observe that they’re talking at me, not engaging with me.
It’s easy to fall into this trap. By over rehearsing, you risk going on autopilot. How can you avoid this? By staying in the moment. Modulating your tone of voice, bringing energy into your body, your facial features and allowing a level of spontaneity.
To help clients get into this zone, I ask them to tell me about the best holiday they’ve recently been on. Immediately they light up, smile, speak with enthusiasm, sit up straighter and start to exude energy. By doing this they effortlessly make an immediate connection with me. If you can replicate this presence in an interview, you’ll build a strong rapport and emotional connection with the interview panel.
It’s important to bring passion into an interview in a way that feels authentic to you. If these techniques feel strange to you at first, don’t panic. Bear in mind, that when your leave your comfort zone, it’s normal to feel awkward. This doesn’t mean that you’re not being true to yourself. You’re simply exploring a different version of yourself which will take time to settle into.
About the author
Laura is a qualified executive coach, EMCC Certified with over 20 years’ experience in executive search and recruitment. She’s the owner of Interview Techniques, a leading provider of interview and career coaching services. For a consultation, please call 087 669 1192 or go to www.interviewtechniques.ie.