Why do HR People insist on asking that question?
I have a friend who I run into infrequently. She has a little dog that she walks sometimes near the house and she's going through an interview cycle. I've been through enough interviews myself to know how dreadful the process is, but she asked that question of me.
I do know that every single move within an interview is important. Every Freudian Slip, every gesture, every comment you make will be listened to and analyzed by someone who is trained to do exactly that. If someone gives a flippant answer to that or any other question, the interview may roll to a stop. Make a bizarre comment and you may not even roll to a stop, it could end right there.
Personally I have always thought that it was one of those "What did you do on your summer vacation" questions. There are no right answers but degrees of wrongness. Not knowing just exactly what the person is truly asking in this dance that you're doing with one or more strangers is all part of it.
At my level in Information Technology, there are many paths that I can take. I can wear many hats. The problem is that when you're not sitting at a desk banging away at software every day, you end up taking them all at once. Maybe not specifically "all" of them at once, but multitasking is a very important part of the job. Ask anyone you know who does any sort of supervisory or managerial position and they will say the same thing.
After I left my friend I found that question rattling around my empty skull while heading back to the house to park under the ceiling fan with the first mug of coffee. I would say that at my level longevity and successive progression is the true answer. I may not be right but that is the answer I give. If you are in a position like Senior Business Analyst or Project Manager or any of the other ten titles I could easily give myself, learning the company is as important as learning the mechanics of submitting work. These processes are called the Business Rules and are the official and unofficial way that things happen.
Sometimes the unofficial ways a company performs its business are much more important than the official. Think of the golf game that upper management sometimes disappears to play on a Wednesday afternoon. Maybe that is why I am not an upper manager, I just can't see why hitting a little white ball into a hole down a grassy field is exciting! It isn't the destination, it is the journey. I used to work for a School District where I would go with my boss, my boss' boss, their boss, and various other computer programmers and analysts to a bar for lunch on a Friday Afternoon. The roster was never the same, some folks came when they could, others were there every week. The result was an unofficial meeting that would last more than the official lunch hour and usually get twice as much business done over a Hot Roast Pork Sandwich and Guinness than could have ever happened in an official meeting in an enclosed conference room.
The bottom line is, what the State of Connecticut used to use as their speed limits before the first Oil Shock in 73, Reasonable and Proper is more effective than Rigid Rules at making sure that things get done.
So where do I see myself in five years? Lets see...