Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?

  | James Innes

Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?

Alternative and related questions:

Why didn't you move on sooner from this organisation?

The meaning behind the question:

There are both good and bad reasons for staying with any one employer for a long time. The interviewer is checking whether they might be able to unearth some of the bad reasons.  Their main concern will most likely be that you might have become set in your ways as a result of staying too long with one organisation and will struggle to cope with and adapt to new challenges.

Your answer:

In your answer what you must aim to achieve is to portray the fact that you stayed with that organisation for "such a long time" as a positive thing, as a conscious decision you made.  You definitely don't want to give the impression that you lack initiative and just drifted.  Maybe you did just stay there because you were happy and secure and quite content with the status quo – but that's not the kind of answer which is going to impress the interviewer.

If you undertook more than one role within that organisation, for example you gained promotion and moved up in the organisation, then that's all you really need to say.  However, shouldn't your CV make that quite clear already?

Maybe you did only undertake the one same role for all your time in the organisation but, while your job title may have stayed the same, can you perhaps tell them how your job description evolved over time with new and interesting tasks and challenges?

If your work is largely project-based then you could convey how, with your handling one different project after another, it felt more like a series of different jobs, rather than just the same job, because it was always changing.

Above all, shift the focus onto what you learned and how you developed during your time with that organisation, in particular useful, transferable skills.


I chose to stay within that organisation because my work always remained an interesting challenge.  Over the course of the decade, the company grew from a small outfit with just five employees to a much larger organisation with well over 50 employees.  It changed so significantly that it didn't actually feel like I was necessarily working for the same organisation.  Clearly, the way an organisation with just 5 employees operates is very different to the ways in which one with over 50 employees operates.  While my actual job title may not have changed over the years, the actual nature of my work evolved and changed rapidly.  The job I was doing when I left the company bore very little resemblance to the job I first took when the company was just starting up.  With each new year, I learned new and valuable skills and, from having been there from the beginning, I am fortunate enough to have gained very useful experience in every department, from finance through to marketing, including much experience which is directly relevant to the job for which I am now applying.

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