How To Answer "When Do You Think You'll Peak In Your Career?"

How To Answer "When Do You Think You'll Peak In Your Career?"

Job interviews can be fraught with all sorts of odd questions. While a recruiter or prospective employer might seem to be asking the most random stuff, there’s often a method to the madness. If you’re asked about your projected peak in your career, the recruiter might be trying to gauge your enthusiasm for the job, your overall ambition, or who knows -- she might just not know what else to ask.

As with any job interview, the best way to handle this off-the-wall question is to prepare ahead of time. Here are some ways to get ready.

Draw a timeline of your career path

If a recruiter or prospective employer asks you about your career peak, there’s a good chance he’s trying to figure out where you’re headed in life. In other words, think of it as a variation on the more traditional "where do you see yourself in 10 years" question. With that in mind, do you indeed know where you’ll be in 10 years? Do you have a sense of what you want and how to get there?

If not, the way to start is by creating a career timeline. Think of it as something of a roadmap to your future. Think of milestones you want to achieve, such as earning your master’s degree, winning a particular award, or perhaps earning a certain salary -- heck, all of these could be included on the same career roadmap. With ideas -- and projected dates -- written out chronologically on a piece of paper, fill in the spaces in between those dates with the things you’d need to do in order to meet those goals by a certain date. For example, to get that master’s degree, you’ll probably have to put a date on the timeline, two years before the expected graduation date, during which time you’d gather your transcripts and fill out program applications.

Pick some career highlights to share

Part of the exercise you’ve been doing is stuff you can keep to yourself and use as a guide toward your future success. Some parts, on the other hand, will be things the prospective employer might want to know about. Instead of choosing just one "peak," choose a handful of prospective career highlights that you’ll be able to mention when asked. Explain to the employer that you have multiple projected peaks, showing your constant effort toward bigger and better things.

Mention the job in question as one of those highlights

Having mentioned that you have several career peaks in mind, don’t hesitate to mention getting the job in questions as one of those highlights. Better yet, if the job has potential for advancement, mention the next-level job as one of the highlights. Say you’re applying for a sales associate job. When asked, state that one of your career peaks will be getting a promotion to sales manager and company vice president.

When a prospective employer asks you about your career peaks, there’s a very good chance she’s trying to figure out whether you’re a short-timer, or whether you’re someone who wants to grow and advance within the company. In other words, this is your chance to demonstrate your ambition and to map out your career goals along the way.


Image source: Imujer