"Where do you see yourself five years from now? " Some job seekers say that question is unfair — how can they possibly plan five years...

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“Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Some job seekers say that question is unfair — how can they possibly plan five years ahead? And I, for one, always say my five-year plan is to get through tomorrow.

But Ann Minter, a secretary for almost three decades for the County of San Bernardino in California, says asking about the next 60 months is “a very valid” question.

“What the interviewer is trying to ascertain is whether the person being interviewed is a goal setter,” said Minter.

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“We should all have one-year, five-year and 10-year plans. Short-term and long-term goals give us something to work for and look toward. It is that simple.”

The secretary, who says she is seriously considering retiring, has her own goals.

“In five years, I hope to have finally finished college after years of working, going to school part time and raising two boys. … I have decided I need to take some time for myself, simply because it is time to do so.”

Now, that’s planning.

A weighty subject: Does your weight determine what kind of assignments you get?

It can if you’re a sales representative.

A survey of 122 sales managers, directors of sales or business owners found “obesity-caused discrimination is rampant in the sales industry.”

According to Ramon Avila, a marketing professor and director of the Center for Professional Selling at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., “Obese sales people were less likely to be considered for quality assignments.”

Avila, who co-wrote the report with Shaheen Borna, also a marketing professor, added that “even when performance and qualifications are the same, sales managers are likely to discriminate by weight.”

The study also found that obese women were less likely to be hired than obese men.

A more positive finding is that 33 percent believe that workers who are “unattractive or overweight … should be given special government legal protection such as that given to persons with disabilities.”

Overtime work: Potential employees who are concerned about overtime work should ask about it in the employment interview — and not wait until they’re on the job.

“As an employer, one of my biggest pet peeves is employees who agree to all conditions of employment but after they get the job, start making requests about their work schedule,” said Al Manning, owner of Sub City, a sandwich job with 10 employees in Waterloo, Iowa.

“I don’t think most employers would have an unfavorable view of applicants who merely ask what their work schedule will be and how many hours they would normally be required to work,” he adds.

In a job interview, Manning says he represents “all aspects of the job — even the negative ones — as accurately as possible. I don’t want to mislead anyone and even have a checklist I use in the interview so I don’t miss anything!”

He adds: “It is better to know [the facts] before accepting the position than to be in a job in which you are unhappy.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.