Answers to this I am happy hearing:
- probably, but I won't be considering it. Accepting a counter offer just delays the inevitable. Once I find a job I would rather have, I'm going to take it, not use it as leverage with the job I want to leave
- in talking to others who have left, it's not the norm where I am, not that it's super relevant because I won't be considering it. [Same sentence as above after that.]
Answers I am not happy hearing:
- I think they'll be relieved I'm going actually, things have not been good for a while
- [laughing a little cruelly] Oh, they are going to have such a problem when they realize they have lost me! They will probably offer me a lot of money to stay, but I'm not taking it even though I would have them over a barrel. That is just not the right place for me and I am out of there.
- Yes, but don't worry, if it's more than you've offered me I will give you a chance to raise your offer before I accept the counter and stay where I am
Answers I am neutral on:
- I've taken that into account when deciding what salary to ask for. You don't need to worry about how I will manage things with the old firm, they're not in control of this process for me
- what's a counter offer?
- I don't know, I never thought about it
There are many motivations for asking this question. Chances are, they are asking "are we likely to have several rounds of negotiation with you every time you tell your employer we've won, and they raise the bid?" If this is the question, you can reassure them without actually answering whether you expect a counter offer or not. But they may be asking "how much do they value you at your current employer right now?" or "how 'into' the whole negotiation and strategy thing are you, and how important is salary to you?" The best answers are not just to the literal question (yes/no) but to the underlying wondering that prompted it.
As always, don't lie or just say what you think they want to hear. If you say you would never consider a counter offer, then get one, consider it, and go back to the new employer trying to get them to raise their offer, that's unlikely to be met well. So take some time to establish what the truth is for you on this matter.