Interview Question: "How Long Do You Plan On Working Here?"

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

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

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. Sometimes, 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 up front, 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 “How Long Do You Plan on Working Here?”

The interviewer can incorporate three questions within this question. First, the interviewer could ask, “How long do you expect to be employed with this company?” Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. Before your interview, give this question some thought. If you want the job, don’t say that this is just a short-term gig for you.

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 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 know you are going to be relocating to another city in two years and you work, for example, in retail, 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 say so.

If you are asked, “How long do you think you will be in this role?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” you can mention that you would hope that there would be opportunities for advancement for you in the future.

Examples of the Best Answers

Try out these responses to the question, "How long do you expect to work at our company?" These answers are good responses to the question. They do not give a specific timeline but demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

I'm 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 can make contributions.

Why It Works: This answer works because the applicant ties a forward-looking organization’s research and development to the skill set the applicant possesses to let the interviewer know that they plan to remain with the company as long as it is a good fit. 

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.

Why It Works: This answer works because you are being honest with the interviewer about your situation, but you are also expressing your desire to work.

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.).

Why it Works: This is a good answer because it reflects the applicant’s good fit with the company culture.

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.

Why It Works: This expresses commitment to the company and the team that you’ll be working with. It also shows the interviewer that you plan to stay with the company.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Focus on the Positives. Say something positive about the company, that you are excited to interview for the position, and that you would be happy working there.

Talk about the aspects of the job that appeal to you and would encourage you to stay.

Mention Company Culture. Mention that the company culture seems to be a good fit for your skill set.

Discuss Recent Developments. Talk about a recent industry or company development and how that fits in with your goals.

Consider References. If you are applying for a retail or 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.

What Not to Say

Don’t Misrepresent Your Intentions. Above all, don’t lie. If you know you will only be at the company for two years, say so. Everyone knows that plans change, and things happen in our lives. We can’t say anything with certainty because anything can happen. All you can be is as honest as possible.

Don’t Volunteer Too Much Information. While being honest, make your answer short.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

Key Takeaways

  • Before your job interview, prepare for the interviewer to ask how long you plan to work for them.
  • Your interviewer may ask you about your long-term career aspirations.
  • Spend some time thinking about this interview question and preparing an answer.
  • Be honest when answering this interview question while realizing that plans can change and that unexpected things happen.
  • Focus on the positives about the company and what would encourage you to stay when you frame your answer.