Job Interview Question

How long would you plan to stay with us?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Asking about your future plans in this way is really not asking you about your future plans.  You don’t have to go into your 5-year plan or your career goals.  It’s a brief question that requires only a brief answer.

Personally, my response to that question would be “How long would you like me to stay?”

Another great response might sound something like this:  “I plan to stay as long as I can.  I don’t want to change jobs if I can avoid it.  I understand that there are learning curves to deal with, and that the grass isn’t always greener and all that, but there’s also something to be said for history and being able to rely on people.”

For some people, this question is a beautiful thing.  If you’ve worked somewhere for a long time, then you can say, “I stayed at my last job for 14 years.  Do you think I’ll be able to stay that long here?”

But if you have “short-gevity” rather than longevity, you might have to help them understand why you haven’t stayed long at the other jobs, IF it puts you in a positive light.

Maybe there was a layoff situation (see this video for how to explain a layoff) or a reduction-in-force that was just a matter of “first in, first out” and had nothing to do with you or your performance.  You can say that you would never have left that job.

How LongMaybe you just outgrew your job.  It was a small company, or there was just no place for you to go with your new skill set so you had to look outside the company.  Everyone understands the desire to improve and grow and accomplish.

Either of those explanations is really something that’s out of your control, so they don’t reflect negatively on you.

But what if you don’t have a nice convenient excuse?

Maybe you have to do a little confessing:  “I made a mistake.  I left too soon and I will never make that mistake again.  I understand now that just because the grass looks greener, doesn’t mean that it is.”

It’s OK to admit that you made a mistake and that you learned your lesson.

Hiring you is an investment for the company.  They end up spending a lot of time and money in the hiring process, training you, getting you settled in.  It takes time to get someone up to full-capacity.

They’d rather you not work for a few months and then take off for greener pastures.  Eliminate that doubt with your answer and call it good.


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