A lot of students ask me this question. What is the best answer to give when the interviewer is asking you: “What are your future goals?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5 years.”
Should you be honest? Should you tell them that you are planning to start your own company few years down the line? Or you should lie about it?
The simple answer is: No.
Don’t tell the interviewer any answer that conflicts with the interest of their organization.
If you find the work interesting, and if they offer you significant equity for your contribution in their company, and if you think that you can make more money working with them than working on your own, you are obviously going to stick with them.
You are going to leave only when you find a better opportunity somewhere else and you feel like your growth in this organization is slow.
Five years is a long time, and right now it is better not to worry about it.
If you quit, it’s their problem, not yours.
And if you have to stay, they have to make it attractive enough for you to stay, else you are going to leave. If you are growing professionally, and if they cannot catch up with your speed of growth, it’s their problem, not yours.
You have no obligation to stay with them if you think that you are not growing with them. That’s when people quit.
So, the best way to answer this question is: Say what they want to hear.
Someone interviewing you for a position in their company will look for the following things:
- Long term work
- No conflict of interest (you cannot do something on the side)
- And they don’t want you to leave and start something of your own
They will get all this if they EARN IT.
It’s not your responsibility to give it to them. They will make you feel like you are obligated to do it, but we are not in a day and age where such commitments can be kept up based on word. They have to earn it, else they will lose you. It’s their problem, not yours.
If few years down the line you feel that there is a better opportunity – either working for someone else or start something of your own, obviously you will jump at it.
So I am not asking you to lie.
Just assume that they company that you are joining is going to become a multi-billion dollar company in a few years (because you are joining) and you will have the perfect reward for it. If that happens, you will have no problem with dedication, commitment, long term work and focusing on it 100%, right?
Say what they want to hear and you will get the job.
Don’t try to be “honest” and tell them that you want to start something of your own in the future because it implies that their company will not grow into a bigger opportunity for you stick around and they will take it as an insult.
I hope this tip helps.