Interview Questions: how to answer “How long would you expect to work for us if we hire you?”

By: Lisa Spiteri

If you’re asked during an interview how long you’d anticipate staying if you’re offered the job the interviewer is undoubtedly attempting to assess whether you will prove to be a good investment.

Recruitment is a time consuming and expensive process for any company, and employers want some kind of assurance that they will recruit a candidate who is committed and will be reliable.

There is no need to answer this question directly. They’re not expecting you to give them a finite period, but they will be expecting an answer that suggests you see yourself working in the company for the long term. And it’s another way of trying to understand your goals and ambitions.

How you can approach this tricky question

You can tackle this question in several ways:

  • You could talk about your love of challenge and that you’ll be happy to stay for as long as the job offers that. This might also offer the opportunity to use a previous position to demonstrate why you stayed with Company X for so many years – examples like this will strengthen your case.
  • If you have identified future opportunities to grow and develop within the company you can discuss the chances of moving up the career ladder – don’t be afraid to show how ambitious you are. It will also show that you have done your homework well, that you understand the company structure and that you are genuinely interested in the business.
  • If you have a solid CV that clearly shows that you have a track record of staying in jobs for a reasonable length of time, you can highlight this and emphasize that you’ve never changed jobs on a whim and that loyalty is an important factor in your working life.

Why have you changed job so often?

Of course, there can be other reasons behind asking this question, and if your CV lists a number of short-term jobs you should not be surprised to be put on the spot. The interviewer will want to understand why you’ve moved around so often and whether there is any guarantee that you won’t also leave this job quickly. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons, redundancy for instance, but if you do habitually change jobs you should be prepared to substantiate your rationale for doing so. Otherwise, the interviewer will be left to speculate on your level of commitment and interest in the position.

However you do decide to tackle this question, don’t just say “I don’t know”. Lack of commitment on your part at this stage will see your chances of success quickly crumble and it will show that you aren’t fully focused on future plans.

Like so many interview questions it’s important to be prepared for this one – dithering, uncertainty and vague responses will only damage your chances of standing out from other candidates!

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