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Answering Interview Questions about Having a Long-Term Job

If you’ve been in the same job (or same position) for long time, a job interviewer may think that you're unmotivated. Use the job interview to set the record straight. Remember that what could be considered stability by some is increasingly seen as fossilization by others.

Your chief strategy in this situation is to look industrious and adaptable to new ideas, ready to take on any challenge that comes your way.

The following sample interview questions appear in bold, followed by effective ways to respond to each question:

Because you’ve been with your last employer for so long, do you think you may have a hard time adjusting to a new company’s way of working?

  • Not at all. Give examples of how you’ve already learned to be adaptable — how your previous job was dynamic, provided a constantly changing environment, and shared common links with the new company. Note parallels of budget, business philosophy, and work ethics.

  • Emphasize your commitment to your previous company as one of many assets you bring with you to the new position — and then name more of your assets.

You’ve been in your previous position an unusually long period of time — why haven’t you been promoted?

  • Present the old job in modules (by clusters of skills you developed instead of by your periods of employment). Concentrate on all increases in responsibility (to show upward mobility within the position) and on relevant accomplishments. Note raises.

  • Say that you’re interested in this new job precisely because of the inertia of your previous position. Mention any lifestyle changes (grown kids, second family income) freeing you to make a vigorous move at this time.

  • Agree that your career hasn’t progressed much, but note that many talented people are forced to root or to accept lateral moves because few upwardly mobile job slots are available. Say your career plateau gave you time to reflect, lighting a fire under your motivation.

  • Explain that you had reached the highest position the company offered individuals in your specialty.

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