| August 24, 2017
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How long do you think you’ll stay with us?

How long do you think you’ll stay with us?
"How long do you think you'll stay with us?" is one of the most usual—and tricky—questions interviewers generally ask the candidates. It goes without saying that everyone looks for their career growth, and one wouldn't let pass a better and exciting opportunity, but at the same time, low commitment towards the recruiting organization can axe your chances to secure the job you're interviewing for.

This is where you need to make your interviewer believe that you are looking for your career growth while at the same time make commitment of a substantial time to the organization.
UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING BEHIND THE QUESTION

The recruiting company invests certain sum when hiring for a position and it is natural that they will seek for the return of their investment. No company wants to invest on something that will give them nothing in return. Therefore, by asking your minimum time commitment, the hiring committee prepares the company to recoup their investment within your stated time period. Furthermore, the interviewer also assesses your career plan and life goals with this question. When you have a clear career plan worked out, you can deal with this question with confidence.

At times, recruiters might ask you to give them the specific time period you plan to work for them. When the potential candidate answers with a large range, for instance five to 10 years, the follow back question will mostly be asking you to be precise with the exact number of years you would want to commit to the company.

You might think answering with a commitment of a lengthy duration, say 10 years, will make the recruiters happy, and might consider you for the job – but that is wrong. A commitment of a prolonged period of stay might be creating an impression of a "visionless" person in you.

Furthermore, with your answer of "10 years," the interviewer might intimidate you and pin you down by asking if you're ready to sign a contract, binding you to stay in the same organization for a decade. On the other hand, a lower period of commitment will naturally dissatisfy the recruiters.

THE EMERGING CONCEPT OF PROTEAN CAREER

Gone are the days when people used to commit their lifetime to one organization. The paradigm of 'permanent job' and 'job security' has shifted in recent times. Today's "Generation Y" employees tend to discard the theory of job security and long-term commitment. The Gen Y is more focused on challenging themselves to try out various roles and responsibilities in several organizations to equip themselves with new skills. It isn't surprising to see that a young candidate today, irrespective of his/her academic background, starts a career at an advertising industry, then jumps to tourism industry, and eventually becomes a banker. Few recruiters understand that job hopping is normal for freshers today.

SO WHAT SHOULD MY ANSWER BE?

All interviewers have their own mindset and think differently, so no interview question has the right answer. However, here's a tip on how to tackle the question:

The key to unlocking the most favorable answer to the question is being diplomatic. Try focusing on how everyone wants growth—be it yourself, the hiring manager, or the company itself—and therefore, say that a substantial time balancing the growth of all stakeholders would be most desirable for you. Or, you might even commit for a duration of two to three years, but you will need to make the interviewers believe that within the stated timeframe, you will be able to significantly contribute to the organization and build your career at the same time.

Also, two-three years is a considerable time period you can commit to any organization, if you're offered a contract by the interviewer.

When you understand the hidden meaning behind this question, you can aptly tackle it, too. It is all about the recruiting organization making an investment in you, and you convincing them of their investment returns.

The author is a soft-skills coach, career advisor, and management consultant at Jobs Dynamics Pvt Ltd, an organization driven towards providing the widest range of job solutions to people looking for work in Nepal. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..