Being asked about the length of time spent at your interview can mean the company is bad

Cynthia Bord
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Why are you spending so little time at each job?

They go point by point, counting out the months or years you spend at each job on your resume.

You meet every criterion they set out. You have the skills and experience, and the team loves you. But they're doing simple arithmetic, seeming to swirl into a bundle of anxiety right in front of your eyes as they try and calculate whether or not you'll be the next employee to quit after a short amount of time before they've even hired you.

I’m almost 2 years in the workforce so most of my experience is composed of internships limited to the academic semester (4 months) or year (10 months). If the interviewer just took a quick look at my graduation year, it’s a fairly logical connection.

This question is usually asked at high-powered, demanding positions with overbearing managers. When they ask this, they're scared you will leave soon after joining the company.

Usually, this means just one person should not do the role or existing problems with a bad manager.

If a company's concern is making sure you are happy and are growing in the job, they will meet an employee's needs. This can look like increasing pay to the national average for the position in the city that an employee is located, working on their management style, or decreasing the workload to what one person can reasonably execute.

At every company where the interviewer asked this, the job responsibilities for the role are convoluted and long. Bulletpoint after bullet point of endless responsibilities. This has to be overwhelming and stressful for whoever is in the role for too long. It can be a strong indicator of why the role has become vacant in the first place.

Because the role that you are interviewing for should be multiple roles for multiple people in one team.

This might also mean that the company undervalues its employees. For example, making one person shoulder the burden that should be distributed across a team undervalues one member's contribution across various responsibilities. On the flip side, companies use this question as an intimidation tactic to make potential employees feel bad for spending less than two years at companies.

Why should an employee owe loyalty to a company that treats them badly?
The answer? We don’t.

Be conscientious of how the interviewer acts when they ask you this question.

If they show negative body language, they haven't worked on improving themselves or the role to make sure whoever is in it will be successful and happy.

The interviewer may be predicting your future moves to leave an unhappy work situation with just this one question.

Most millennials expect to move up (through a promotion) or move out (join a different company) to advance their careers every two years. SupposeHowever, if a company sees value in an employee and what they contribute to a team. In that case, they should pay for the cost upfront to ensure that they keep the talent they already have, rather than worry about them leaving the job before the company has provided a job offer.

Be wary when this question is asked. It may point to larger problems that will be experienced once you are in the role.

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writer on love, tech, and politics, lover of coffee and petter of dogs

New York, NY

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