"where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

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"where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:34 pm

I am preparing for my cbs and I have found the "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question very difficult to answer from my oci experience so I would like to ask for some inputs here. I know you are supposed to tell them that you plan to stay with the firm in the long run, but in that case "in five yrs" means you will be there as a 3rd year associate. I am not particularly familiar with real law firm life but I guess on that position you will have some responsibilities but will still be on the junior end. In that case, how do you put it in a way that still shows you are ambitious and proactive? Thanks!

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby WhiskeyAndCupcakes » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:50 pm

I'm just a 3L, so maybe some firm people have better insight. But I'd focus on things like skill/ career development. For example, "I hope to have developed strong litigation skills and figured out what type of litigation I'd like to specialize in. I also hope to have taken a deposition and drafted major trial briefs" (assuming the firm is one where you start as a generalist or rotate through groups before specializing). I think that's a more thoughtful answer than like "I want to be HERE" and shows you take ownership of career development.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Student of Law » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:57 pm

Yes, maybe also express that you hope to be able to guide junior associates and to pass on to them what you have learned.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:11 pm

Thank you both very much. I knew some of my friends had said "I wanted to be you" and got the offer and felt not very comfortable about giving out responses like that. Guess I will stay true to my real expectations while showing ownership!

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Roy McAvoy

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Roy McAvoy » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:37 pm

"I see myself becoming the go-to associate when something needs to be done quickly and well and building my own book of business at X firm."

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby First Offense » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:23 am

I wish someone would say "out of debt and living that 9-5 government life," in an interview with me.

I'd recommend them for an offer right then and there.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:12 am

I always cringe when a colleague asks this in a behavioral interview, until, recently, a summer associate candidate spun it on its head and answered as follows (paraphrased):

"It is nearly impossible to say where I see myself in 5 years because there are just too many unknowns, other than knowing I will be working hard at building a career and learning like a sponge. However, where I saw myself today 5 years ago is right here interviewing for my first law job. I had reached a place in my prior career where I was at a crossroads, so I allowed myself to dream, to take a risk, and to pursue law school."

And the individual proceeded to explain the goals that were set and the paths that were taken. To me that was a far more illustrative answer to a behavioral question, demonstrating that person's initiative, how those goals were adjusted, the internal drive to achieve those goals, and the ability to reflect critically and learn from obstacles. Anyone can throw together a pithy future-focused answer, because it can't be proven otherwise. But, this answer hit the crux of the issue using concrete examples.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby jhett » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:07 pm

"Married to you."

Seriously though, I usually talk about my current career goals and where that may lead me rather than a specific job or position. I don't say I'll definitely be at the same firm because everyone knows that is disingenuous. In answering this question, your thought process is more important than the actual 5 year end point.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby jacketyellow » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am preparing for my cbs and I have found the "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question very difficult to answer from my oci experience so I would like to ask for some inputs here. I know you are supposed to tell them that you plan to stay with the firm in the long run, but in that case "in five yrs" means you will be there as a 3rd year associate. I am not particularly familiar with real law firm life but I guess on that position you will have some responsibilities but will still be on the junior end. In that case, how do you put it in a way that still shows you are ambitious and proactive? Thanks!


Just don't say, "I want to be a partner here."

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I always cringe when a colleague asks this in a behavioral interview, until, recently, a summer associate candidate spun it on its head and answered as follows (paraphrased):

"It is nearly impossible to say where I see myself in 5 years because there are just too many unknowns, other than knowing I will be working hard at building a career and learning like a sponge. However, where I saw myself today 5 years ago is right here interviewing for my first law job. I had reached a place in my prior career where I was at a crossroads, so I allowed myself to dream, to take a risk, and to pursue law school."

And the individual proceeded to explain the goals that were set and the paths that were taken. To me that was a far more illustrative answer to a behavioral question, demonstrating that person's initiative, how those goals were adjusted, the internal drive to achieve those goals, and the ability to reflect critically and learn from obstacles. Anyone can throw together a pithy future-focused answer, because it can't be proven otherwise. But, this answer hit the crux of the issue using concrete examples.


I think questions like these are designed more to weed out candidates who haven't even bothered to think about the practice of law and the firm for more than 5 minutes before coming in for the interview. (See also Smokey's latest post(s) in the LA thread where he talks about interviewees who clearly aren't trying very hard.) I'd agree with the last sentence of jhett's post above -- "In answering this question, your thought process is more important than the actual 5 year end point."

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I always cringe when a colleague asks this in a behavioral interview, until, recently, a summer associate candidate spun it on its head and answered as follows (paraphrased):

"It is nearly impossible to say where I see myself in 5 years because there are just too many unknowns, other than knowing I will be working hard at building a career and learning like a sponge. However, where I saw myself today 5 years ago is right here interviewing for my first law job. I had reached a place in my prior career where I was at a crossroads, so I allowed myself to dream, to take a risk, and to pursue law school."

And the individual proceeded to explain the goals that were set and the paths that were taken. To me that was a far more illustrative answer to a behavioral question, demonstrating that person's initiative, how those goals were adjusted, the internal drive to achieve those goals, and the ability to reflect critically and learn from obstacles. Anyone can throw together a pithy future-focused answer, because it can't be proven otherwise. But, this answer hit the crux of the issue using concrete examples.


Was this a couple of years ago in the Midwest? Because this sounds eerily close to the way I answered this question.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:15 pm

lolwat wrote:I think questions like these are designed more to weed out candidates who haven't even bothered to think about the practice of law and the firm for more than 5 minutes before coming in for the interview. (See also Smokey's latest post(s) in the LA thread where he talks about interviewees who clearly aren't trying very hard.) I'd agree with the last sentence of jhett's post above -- "In answering this question, your thought process is more important than the actual 5 year end point."


I/O psychology says these types of behavioral questions are designed to get to a candidate's initiative, but to me they always demonstrated a candidate's ability to provide a canned milquetoast answer. That's why I thought the flip answer was much more illustrative of the intended outcome, including a glimpse into how the candidate thinks. Interviewees who aren't trying hard piss me off. I'll read Smokey's LA posts.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Was this a couple of years ago in the Midwest? Because this sounds eerily close to the way I answered this question.


I've been interviewing generally since 2003 and for summer associates since 2013 but only in the Midwest since 2016. So, maybe we've run into each other.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I/O psychology says these types of behavioral questions are designed to get to a candidate's initiative, but to me they always demonstrated a candidate's ability to provide a canned milquetoast answer. That's why I thought the flip answer was much more illustrative of the intended outcome, including a glimpse into how the candidate thinks. Interviewees who aren't trying hard piss me off. I'll read Smokey's LA posts.


Yeah, I mean, I'll admit to not knowing the first thing about I/O psychology, but outside of behavioral questions like "tell me about the time you did X" (which I will likely never ask unless forced to) most questions I would ask -- including possibly the "where do you see yourself in X years" question -- would be to try and get at whether they've thought about the firm and the practice they applied to. All I really care about during a 30-minute interview is whether they've done any sort of research into where they've applied and whether they seem like someone I can work with. Can't get a whole lot more information from that short of a conversation.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:52 pm

lolwat wrote:All I really care about during a 30-minute interview is whether they've done any sort of research into where they've applied and whether they seem like someone I can work with. Can't get a whole lot more information from that short of a conversation.


You're so right, and way too many conversations need to end after 2 minutes. I try to stretch those to 15. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I just start talking about myself.

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby redsox550 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:21 pm

Sitting on the other side of this desk asking nervous law students the same question.

FTW!

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Re: "where do you see yourself in five yrs" question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lolwat wrote:I think questions like these are designed more to weed out candidates who haven't even bothered to think about the practice of law and the firm for more than 5 minutes before coming in for the interview. (See also Smokey's latest post(s) in the LA thread where he talks about interviewees who clearly aren't trying very hard.) I'd agree with the last sentence of jhett's post above -- "In answering this question, your thought process is more important than the actual 5 year end point."


I/O psychology says these types of behavioral questions are designed to get to a candidate's initiative, but to me they always demonstrated a candidate's ability to provide a canned milquetoast answer. That's why I thought the flip answer was much more illustrative of the intended outcome, including a glimpse into how the candidate thinks. Interviewees who aren't trying hard piss me off. I'll read Smokey's LA posts.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Was this a couple of years ago in the Midwest? Because this sounds eerily close to the way I answered this question.


I've been interviewing generally since 2003 and for summer associates since 2013 but only in the Midwest since 2016. So, maybe we've run into each other.


I was interviewing for SAs in 2015, but I remember answering almost identically to what you've described. Good to know that's a good approach. It wasn't something I planned. I was just trying to answer the question honestly, and promising I was going to love it and I couldn't wait to spend my career at X firm sounded like bullshit to me, so I figured it would sound like bullshit to the interviewer too.



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