I want to apply to graduate school and will finish my undergraduate studies this year. Before knowing the results of my graduate school applications, I planned to get some work experience so I applied to some companies and now got an interview appointment.

I'm afraid what to say when the interviewers want to know my career goals, since I would have to tell them that I will apply to graduate school, which would mean that I'll stop working after 8 months. However, if I don't get accepted, it would be certainly good to have already a job. But if I get accepted, I would definitely go to graduate school.

Its a mechanical engineering job and I believe it doesn't require alot specific training, but I'm afraid the interviewers will count it as negative if I tell them about my graduate school plans. Am I supposed to tell them the truth in this case? Or would they not count this answer into their decision?

  • Note: depending on the nature of mechanical engineering it can be a fairly simply or very involved and challenging job. All depends on the complexity and tolerances required in your work. Aug 18 '14 at 19:52
  • As mentioned by @Telastyn, graduate school is not a career goal. You can safely and truthfully indicate what you long-term career goal without explaining what you short-term objectives may be. Aug 18 '14 at 20:12
  • Are you planning on going into Academia? If so, going to Grad. School would be a huge part of the career goal. If not, coming out of grad. school and looking for a job with 8 months or less of experience, people may want a reference from your first and only job. It's not going to be positive if you've deceived them.
    – user8365
    Aug 18 '14 at 20:31
  • If you want to mention grad school why not mention it without mentioning the "When" part. As for how they interpret the answer, they might be looking for negative risk factors. e.g. if you're planning to leave after a few months
    – Brandin
    Aug 19 '14 at 11:07

You haven't applied to grad school let alone been accepted. Until you have applied and you have been accepted, your plans for going to grad school are only so much vaporware until you can produce the letters of acceptance. It doesn't matter how likely it is that you'll be admitted. The only thing that counts is that you're admitted.

There is no point in discussing your plans for going to grad school with the recruiters. Because until you can produce the letters of acceptance, you've got no plans.

Strange things can derail your plans to attend grad school. In my case, I did get my MS in Chem Eng from Columbia University School of Eng. But my plans for getting a PhD in Chem Eng fell through when I fell in love :)

So, until you've got your letter of acceptance and you're actually following through on their invitation to show up, you've got no plans to attend grad school :)


Graduate school isn't a career goal, it's a step to get there. So answer with what you want to eventually do - why are you looking to go to graduate school?

Even if it's to teach, then something as easy (and vague) as "I'd like to spend some time getting experience and then get back into teaching." is clear about your motivations while not kneecapping your job search.


I would be honest to a point. I would be up front in saying "I'm planning to apply to graduate school to pursue X, Y, Z" you're already a student so that doesn't necessarily imply at date X you'll quit (honestly I wouldn't even worry about that until that time comes)

To me furthering your education is a plus in my book, ultimately if I'd try and help you get a partial paid tuition benefit to try and retain you. In that event I'd feel safe you'd be around at least until you degree was done, and retaining a decent employee for 4 - 5 years isn't too shabby (I know you're probably only talking 2, but these things tend to take longer than expected + time before you start looking again)

That said I would not say when I apply to grad school and get I accepted. I'd just say "I plan to pursue furthering my education" when they ask where say "I'm applying to and a few others" That's it, no more. You've just told me you'll probably still be around, but there is always that chance. If I'm hiring students this is a known and expected thing.

(That said, if you work out, I'd fight to keep you in my company via raises, paid tuition, whatever else makes reasonable sense)


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