How to Answer Interview Questions About Long-Term Plans

Interview
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Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, particularly if you have been searching for a new job for a long time. It might come as a surprise to you when a potential employer asks you how long you might plan on working for them. However, this is just one of the standard questions that many companies use when they interview job candidates.

Thinking about how you would respond to this question before your interview will ensure that you are prepared with a strategic answer.

 

Common Interview Question: Future With the Company

One of the most common questions that is asked during the hiring process is about your long-term plans with the company.

An interviewer may pose the question in one of several ways:

  • How long do you expect to remain employed with this company?
  •  How long do you think you will be in this role?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Do not be caught off guard. Many candidates will blurt out that they are only looking for a short-term stint while looking to move across the country or go back to school. While upfront, those responses are not likely to impress an interviewer and can swiftly get you removed from the candidate list.

Hiring and training new employees is an expensive process.

By bringing you on, the company is investing significant time and money into you. They want to know that their investment will pay off, not that their money will be wasted if you plan to quit in six months.

 

How to Answer Interview Questions About How Long You Plan to Stay

Even if you do not plan to be with the company for the long-term, there is no need to lie or give the wrong impression.

Everyone knows plans can change and that the unexpected happens. Instead of misrepresenting your intentions, focus your response on saying something positive about the employer, your level of engagement, and your enthusiasm for the position.

 Let the employer know clearly how much and why working for them is very attractive to you. Note specific aspects of the job which appeal to you and would encourage you to stay on for a long time.

If you mention a recent industry or company development and how that relates to your goals, that can set you apart as a well-informed candidate. 

Examples of the Best Answers

For instance, a good answer to the question, "How long do you expect to work at our company?" would be:

"I'm really excited about the research and innovations your company has delivered in the past few years. I've been looking for a position with a dynamic company engaged in the community, and your organization certainly fits that description. I think this role is a great match for my skills and experience and offers me a chance to grow professionally. I expect to be here for as long as I have the opportunity to make contributions."

Also, here are some additional answers depending on your current situation:

  • I don't have any immediate plans to move on. I'd like a job where I can have continuity and be part of a team.
  • Because my spouse is in the military, we will likely be moving in two years, but I would like to work here steadily until then.
  • I would like to stay as long as there are growth opportunities.
  • I would prefer to stay long term, if possible. I like the flexible hours you offer, which would work well with my other commitments, like my studies (or children, family, etc.)

These answers are good responses to the question; they do not give a specific timeline, but instead demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and the company. 

When you are applying for a retail or customer service position, be as honest as possible when you answer. You don't want to mislead a potential supervisor, as you may need to use him or her for a reference at some time in the future.

If you know you are going to be relocating to another city in two years, you should say so (although you might also add that you hope, if you do excellent work for their store, that the retail chain might ultimately find a position for you in the city you are relocating to).

Plans change, but you want to make sure that you are honest about what can be expected of you. On the other hand, if you plan on it being a long-term position, by all means say so.

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