Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Personal and Profesional Goals II

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Wing, Nosewheel, Whatever
Dec 19, 2001
Where do you see yourself personally/professionally in five years?

This question takes a different tack; it invites you to look not to your past, but to your future for the answer. Many people are far too speculative in answering this question because they are uncertain of either what they want or what they believe they can achieve.

The question is designed to reveal some specific things about you. First, it tells the interviewing company something about your self-confidence. If the answer you give is definitive, optimistic and ambitious, you will appear hard working and goal oriented. But if your answer meanders and lacks flair, it could leave the impression that you lack ambition and drive.

In follow-up to this question, many interviewers ask the same question on a more protracted time scale, usually ten years. If you are asked the follow-up version, your answer should build on the foundation laid in the answer to the first question and be more definite. Expand on your thoughts and take them to their logical conclusions. For instance, if you said might own your own home in five years, you should state that you would definitely own your own home in ten years. Anything you discussed on the five-year time scale should be taken to a further logical length when answering the follow-up question. This will make an important demonstration of your positive and optimistic attitude.

Your Professional Future

As you plan your response to the professional component of the question, it is a good idea to do some research into what the company prefers to see their pilots do as they gain experience. Some companies prefer that their senior Captains move on to other airlines, believing that they can keep their payroll costs down by having the bulk of their staff consist of relatively new workers. Other companies prefer to see their pilots stay with the company and make a career there. They typically believe that they are enhancing the safety of their operation by keeping people familiar with all aspects of their operation rather than turning over the entire workforce in the space of a few short years. They would also rather pay their senior pilots a higher wage than face the potentially enormous cost of continually training newcomers.

Even if you are unable to find out what the company prefers to hear, this is still a relatively easy question to give a neutral answer to. For example, suppose the company you wanted to work for had a mixed fleet of turboprops and jets and your goal is to one day fly jets. When you are asked this question you might begin by saying that you see yourself as a Captain on a turbine-powered airplane, possibly a jet. No matter what the company prefers your answer to be, you have given an honest answer that includes their operation as a possible place for you to meet your professional goals.

Your Personal Future

In planning the personal portion of your answer, choose some standard goals that young people typically have such as getting married, having children, owning a home and driving a nice car and include them in the picture of where and how you see yourself in the future. Even if achieving what you want doesn’t seem realistic to you, your job in answering this question is to portray a mood of optimism and self-confidence. By answering in this way you will demonstrate that you are just like everybody else when it comes to what you want for yourself and your family.

That excerpt was from my book on aviation interviews. Now here are some other thoughts that also have a direct bearing on the subject of your future.

ALL companies are concerned about whether you intend to leave. The catch is that they want to know for a WIDE variety of reasons. Some of them will NOT hire you if you tell them the truth in the form of, "I'll be gone before you knew I was here." I would say don’t shoot yourself in the foot in the name of a false assumption about what honesty really is.

What I am advocating is an answer that is both neutral and truthful. Telling the truth is NOT about telling ALL the facts when you’re in an interview. It’s about relating carefully chosen facts that will support your sales pitch truthfully.

There's nothing that says what level of detail you should give or precisely HOW you intend to achieve your goals. Choosing to furnish only limited details about your intentions does NOT constitute lying until you tell them directly that you will NEVER leave their employ in pursuit of a major airline career. If they ask THAT question a truly honest answer leaves the door open to the possibility that you might leave no matter what your real intentions are. The reason is that people change and their lives and circumstances are the biggest reasons why.

This fact brings up another point that most people don’t consider nearly enough as they formulate an answer to this question – the fit between the company and the employee must be MUTUALLY agreed upon.

The common approach people take in preparing an answer to this question is one that assumes that the company will always want THEM around. Their answer is therefore totally contingent on their own career aspirations. However, the employer/employee relationship is a two way street. I think it’s important to leave room for the notion that the agreement between the employer and the employee that the relationship is beneficial to both parties may fade at some point in the future for any number of reasons.

The bottom line reality in an interview with a company you REALLY want to work for is that you will have a wide variety of GOOD reasons for wanting to work there and you need to stress those issues. If your intention is to one day fly a jet as a Captain then I think you tell them that but since none of us has a crystal ball, your answer does not need to be any more certain about how and where than the best speculation could offer. For now, what you want most is the job that they are prepared to offer and that’s what you’re there to convince them to give you.

One last critical piece of advice is warranted here. Many in this profession will be willing to offer advice on how to answer this question. Be aware that most of the time canned answers are recognized immediately as such in an interview, while thoughtful answers are equally discernable to the discriminating interviewer. You should do everything in your power to provide the latter over the former.

Canned answers often dodge the question at hand and answer a different one. This is a dangerous game to play if you really want the job. It would be easy to attempt to redirect the interviewer's attention by implying that your career goals five years hence are not as important as those you hold right now, but you will likely regret the attempt. Interviewers tend to feel as though they're not being taken seriously, or worse, that you're being deliberately evasive if you don't answer their questions directly.

Keep in mind therefore, that it's one thing to add to a straightforward answer to the question posed by taking the subject in a new direction over the course of your speech. It is quite another thing to fail to answer the question you were asked. DON'T fail to answer the question you are asked in an interview!

Hope this helps you all out with one of the tougher questions to answer in an interview. That's why it's there.


Latest resources