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As a bachelor student looking for a job, I get this question a lot. I tell them that I maybe want a masters degree later, but looking to gain experience for now.

Is my answer bad because they fear I leave after a short time?

Why do recruiters ask this question?


Edit: Since it seems relevant it is a software development position in Germany.

What could be the reasoning of the question, when applying for a job at a big or small company?

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    One reason is it's a good way to show off their education benefits. To your response they can say "Well we offer a program that will pay for your continuing education while you work for us." – David K Jan 28 '16 at 17:45
  • I'm afraid there's no one reason, as it depends of the country and the company itself. Where are you from? Are you applying to a local company or abroad? – Trickylastname Jan 28 '16 at 18:15
  • When I said I was interested in going back to school and upgrading my education is almost seen as a negative. Will it impact your job performance? Will you require a custom schedule? etc. I had to give endless reassuring that it wouldn't, and I wouldn't (night school). Some places want dependable employees and see you having higher ambitions as a sign that you won't stick around. Others, on the contrary, want people who wish to expand their knowledge. Whatever you say though, be confident and to the point. Don't sound like you're unsure/undecided. – AndreiROM Jan 28 '16 at 18:31
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    Is the notion of just having a Bachelor's degree in Germany fairly recent? If so, the interviewers may not yet have adjusted to the new system and "look down" on those who stopped their education "early". – Eric Jan 29 '16 at 0:19
  • Yes, it's new (since 2007 I think, at my uni), before we had the diploma which was like doing a bachelor and a master. I guess it could be a factor with someone who made bad experiences with bachelor graduates or someone who is a little bit old school. – Fabian Jan 29 '16 at 9:00
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It's hard to guess why a particular interviewer would ask a particular question. You're almost certainly better off answering it honestly. If you don't have plans to get an advanced degree but might reconsider after you have, say, 5 years of practical experience, that's a perfectly reasonable answer.

It is possible that the interviewer is concerned that you are going to stick around for a few months and then leave. But it is also possible that the interviewer wonders whether you're going to be interested in getting an advanced degree because that would be a natural way to progress in the role your interviewing for. Or it is possible that they want to know whether to tell you about the company's tuition reimbursement program. Since there are many possible reasons, there is no single best answer, just tell the truth.

If your degree is in something that is often a first step in a longer career path (say, your undergraduate major was pre-med) and you are interviewing for an entry-level role that wouldn't use the more advanced degree (say, a phlebotomist at a blood bank), it's reasonable for the interviewer to guess that you're looking for very short-term employment until you enroll in med school. If you've got the same degree but are interviewing for a position that could grow over time as you get more education (a lab tech at a research facility for example), it might be advantageous for you to explain that you intend to go back to school to get a PhD so that you could be a research scientist at the company.

  • Also, some companies like to avoid candidates close to graduate or in their last years because they fear they will put their studies in the first place instead of them (leaving early, refusing to do overtime, taking as much days off as possible). – Trickylastname Jan 28 '16 at 18:07
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Consider these answers:

Uh, maybe, like ya know I'm thinkin' about maybe doing it like sometime soonish ya know...

vs.

I'm contemplating going for it in the next few years.

Neither answer has a definite time frame, yet the second one is far more polished, confident and concise compared to the first one. In an interview the way you deliver your answer can matter more than the content.


There are people who will work full-time and get a Master's concurrently, which may be why they're asking about your future plans. They might either be worried about it impacting your work, you taking a leave of absence, or the opposite: some employers may cover tuition for higher education and see this as an investment in you as an employee.

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They may actually be looking for people that want to get a graduate degree. Many companies pay for graduate school. E.G. If you get and MBA going part time that is good for the company.

If the offer is in a town without a university then no is probably the safe bet.

If the town has a university then I would ask "do you encourage graduate degrees". If they say no then tell them no you are not interested in grad school. If they say yes then tell them you would strongly consider.

On my first job they asked why I would want to work here and I told them because I have been accepted to graduate school here. There are just a couple classes I want that are only offered during the day any chance I could take some day classes. They were said yes and gave me a job offer that day. And they paid for grad school. I was even able to use work assignments as graduate projects.

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Is my answer not good because they fear I leave after a short time?

Unless you are seeking a profession that requires an advanced degree or certification, then - Yes, that is indeed the fear.

Why do recruiters ask this question?

For the same reason. They don't want to present a candidate that turns out to be a short-timer.

When I hire, I am looking for someone for the long term. I invest a lot of time and money while sourcing, hiring, training, and mentoring new workers. I don't want to do that for someone who would be around for a year or so and then leave.

So I talk to new graduate applicants about what they learned in school, where they want to be in the long term, and how they will get there. If I get the sense that what they are saying (without using the exact works) is something like "Well, working here for a while is okay, but I really need to get a graduate degree for what I want, and I'll leave to do that full-time once I save up some money" - then I'm less interested.

If instead they said something like "My long term goals would require me to get an advanced degree - which I plan to do evenings", then I am more interested. I might even start talking about my company's tuition reimbursement benefits, how I attained my Master's degree nights, etc.

So answer the question. And make sure no matter what they you don't sound like you will jump ship soon to get a full-time advanced degree, and you should be fine.

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    My employer is actually supportive of employees who have a bachelor degree and then go part-time to make their masters. This can be a good way to secure talent. – Philipp Jan 29 '16 at 9:50
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I think the recruiters probably are looking to weed out people who are going to leave them after a short time for other things.

I think your best answers is probably to keep it to "I'm interested in gaining experience for now" and leave out the part about maybe wanting to get a masters later on.

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