Ummm…That’s a Good Question!

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

I have come to enjoy (and get giddy!) seeing a student’s appointment on my calendar with a mock interview, particularly because by the end of this fellowship adventure, I hope to be a self-proclaimed interviewing guru. I am well on my way! Our wonderful student ambassadors ask the student which company they are practicing for, and I get to do a little bit of research prior to learn about the company in order to make the interviewing questions as authentic as possible. I have learned so much about these (primarily) major business firms; they are doing wonderful work, focusing on client services, while being innovators and leaders in their industry. (As I have already started to compile so much information on these companies, I have even created a new folder on my desktop for easy access.) One of my favorite questions to ask students during our mock interview is that of the infamous “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” With the students who are well practiced, they are able to roll a response with ease, for other students (and why I am writing this blog), they stare back at me with wide eyes and oh my gosh facial expressions. For these students, read on.

Through some research, I’ve highlighted some key components in order to ace this “sneaky” interview question. Overall, the purpose of this question is to “understand whether the candidate is looking for a career rather than a job, whether their goals align with the organization’s goals, and whether they have a realistic plan for their future (Business Insider).”

  • Be ambitious, but realistic”: Be realistic and mindful of how quickly you can rise through the ranks, do your research to determine the typical time of progression and the trajectory mapped out, but showcase your flexibility. As companies spend a great deal of time and money in recruiting and training candidates, they don’t want to lose their investment in a hire that is going to leave in a year or two (although it has been commonly said that the primary purpose of your first job is to find your second job, but I’ll leave that for another blog post), so it is best to avoid saying that you’ll be at another company (even if it’s true).
  • Talk in terms of achievements and responsibilities”: Focus your answer on your professional development and skills you would like to acquire, or qualifications you’d like to have completed.
  • Be specific, but flexible”: “Employers want to know that you know what you want” and only speak about your interest in the industry in which the company operates, especially if you are considering multiple avenues/career opportunities. Be mindful of how you are phrasing your words. Instead of saying “I need…” say “I’d like…”
  • Talk about your professional, rather personal, ambitions”: Discussing personal ambitions, unless it is specifically asked in the interview, can be seen as irrelevant. Keep the conversation focused on you, and yourself professionally.
  • Emphasize the value you can bring to the organization”: This is the opportunity to tell the employer exactly how you can (and will) make a difference in the organization. Make sure your 5 year plan is in line with theirs.

For me, I look forward to working with students every day, becoming energized by every one of their stories and talking about career services and all of the resources every single day. My goal over the next 5 years is for me to continue to love the work that I do, being challenged with new projects and new ideas to support the mission and values of your company in order to achieve outreach and success for all of our students. As I have shown through my fellowship opportunity, career growth and development is important to me, and I am eager to take on more responsibilities in order to gain more industry knowledge. Additionally, through hard work, focus and passion, I hope to have an office with a window so that I may be able to become energized by the view and give life to my house plants.


Author: Danielle G.

Danielle Golinski will be serving as one of two Career Advising Fellows for the Student Professional Development Center. She serves as a liaison between the students at Elon University and the SPDC. Before arriving at Elon, she earned a M.Ed in School Counseling from Rivier University in New Hampshire where she worked as a Graduate Assistant for Student Success. Prior to completing her Master’s program, Danielle attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her B.S. in Psychology, with a minor in Nutrition. Danielle has spent time working for the non-profit organization Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Match Support Specialist, and for Work Opportunities Unlimited as a Career Resource Specialist. In her role as a fellow she is devoted to helping students work towards clarification of their professional and educational goals through self-reflection and experiential learning. With a focus on interests, strengths, and values Danielle works with students in all areas of professional development. She also partners with Greek Life and other organizations across campus to provide career-related programs and drop-in advising hours in an effort to meet student’s needs in a way that is convenient for them. Education/Training M. Ed., 2014, School Counseling, Rivier University, Nashua, NH B.A., 2011, Psychology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH Professional Interests/Background Career advising, professional development, positive psychology in career development, career services in higher education, mentoring, school counseling, and client-centered therapy Professional Activity North Carolina Association of Colleges and Employers (NCACE), Member 2014-Present Personal Interests New to the area, Danielle enjoys exploring all that North Carolina has too offer in regards to both indoor and outdoor recreation. During her free time she enjoys working out, experimenting with new recipes, being crafty, and trying to find as many things that Sriracha tastes good on. I can help you with: Career Exploration Connecting you with the Career Services Department for Support Cover Letters Interviewing Skills/Mock Interviews Networking Resumes

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