It is said that no plan is a master plan and there exists no such plan which can guarantee you success in any field of life (including your career). There are many factors (majorly external) that affect the ultimate result of your actions or steps taken. Hence you may not get the required results always in all the scenarios. A similar nature is assumed when one applies for any job or job position in the market. A job has a long-term proposition and the factors that affect the transition of a person from one job to another can be corporate changes or poor-financial performances or changing work practices etc.
So, there is no surprise if your Plan A or Job A didn’t work out for you. There is no need to be despair rather thinking and planning for your Plan B will be a better choice than repenting on failures for Plan A. Have you ever thought about your Plan B in life? What is your Plan B in case luck doesn’t always favor you?
These are not the questions those you just need to ask from yourself and answer yourself, but, such questions are also part of the interviews of many job selection processes and admission processes of various colleges. Thinking about your alternative plans at your level is one thing and preparing an answer to such a question for an interview is another. Read further to know what the interviewer wants to hear as a response to this question, how can you prepare a well-structured answer, what are the dos and don’ts for the content of your answer and then have a look at some sample answers as well.
What Interviewer is trying to judge?
So, the employer or the college faculty and you were discussing the present job which the company is offering to you. You discussed your reasons for leaving the previous job and why you want to join this company or college (in case you appear for an interview with a college). All went great and then suddenly the interviewer comes up with a negative statement, “If we don’t select you,” you already felt a wave of worriedness but the question isn’t over yet, so it continues… “What is your plan B?”
Plan B? Why is he or she asking about it? What do they get to do with this? Your interviewer may be interested in knowing:
1. Have you ever thought about it? The interviewer is interested in knowing whether or not you have given it a thought. It is good to be positive and hope for the best. But, you need to consider risk factors as well because it’s hardly any time when you get the desired outcomes.
2. What is your Plan B?: The interviewer wants to know is your plan B any realistic? Can it be achieved if they reject you? Or should that be your plan B at all? They want to know how you prioritize certain plans. Whether your Plan B should be Plan B only or that should be Plan A?
3. Are you dedicated enough? The interviewer wants to know what does the offered job position or offered admission means to you. He or she doesn’t want to waste a seat for someone who is not interested at all.
4. Your short term goals: Your answer to this question reveals your short term or near-future goals to the interviewer which will help him in knowing you better. That later will help decide on your selection.
Along with your other qualifications, your background, and your professional experience, an interviewer still wants to know your plans for the future. These plans include both “your short term and long term plans” and hence, the interviewer asks you this question. This question helps them to know your short term plans.
Interviewers may ask these questions about your goals in various ways. Some of these ways are:
• What are your goals?
• Where do you see yourself in the next two or five or ten years?
• What are your plans if you get selected? And
• What are your plans if we don’t select you?
For preparing an answer to this question the following points will prove beneficial-
1. Keep updating your resume: If you are working with some organization then you may less be interested, but being a student you will be very interested in acquiring more skills and upgrading your resume. Learn new skills and hone the older ones so that you have options for yourself in line with your career.
2. Think of your goals: Remember yourself of all the plans and goals that you have. Then think of ways for achieving them. A goal can be attained with more than one path and hence you need to talk of the other path when the interviewer asks this question from you. Remember not to deviate from the goals; just provide an alternative for achieving them.
3. Make a list of your dream companies: Make a list of the dreams companies and colleges those you want to join. In case you could not make it to the number 1 on that list, think of joining the next best. And explain that the next best alternative for you during the interview.
4. Be clear on your reason for joining the company or college: Also, you need to be very clear on your reason that why you want to join that particular company or college for which you are giving the interview. And so, you need to align your reason for Plan B with these same lines. For example, if you are applying in a particular job for the challenges that it offers, you need to select Plan B which gives the same level of challenges to you.
Tips on what to include and what to avoid
About what to INCLUDE:
There are certain points that you can add to your answer to making it stronger. These points are as follows:
1. Explain tangible goals: Since you have to mention about your goals in life, take care that you speak of the tangible and achievable goals and not your fantasies. For the one attending an interview for a job, these goals can be: Managing a Big Project; associating with a bigger company; managing a greater number of people; taking up professional challenges and learning from them, etc. The one who is giving the interview for the college can have goals like getting industry exposure, developing his skills as much as possible, etc.
2. Relate to your reason for associating with that particular company or college: Your plan B must be in line with your reason for applying to that particular company where you are sitting for the interview. If your reason for applying to this company was better to work environment then your plan B can of joining any other company which offers a good work environment with a better financial offer.
3. It should be the next best alternative available for you: Your plan B must be feasible for you. For example, if you want to join a particular college near to your hometown because that college offers a scholarship then you cannot mention ‘planning to study abroad’ as your Plan B.
Things to AVOID:
Some things are better not said. Depending based on Plan A there are a few plans that cannot be Plan B for you. As mentioned above if your Plan A is to study in a college with help of financial aid then you can’t mention of ‘studying in foreign university’ as plan B. Mind the following points while answering to this question:
1. Don’t lose your confidence: When the interviewer talks negatively about not selecting you don’t lose your confidence. They are testing you on basis of your emotional stability as well. Speak the answer that you have prepared confidently.
2. Prepare and practice well: This question in the interview can be stress causing questions if you don’t prepare and practice for this. Prepare about your Plan B keeping in mind your skills, qualifications, interests, and goals in mind. If you are interested in joining the corporate world then mentioning of planning to be a ‘sports coach’ in school or college will give a negative impact of your personality to the interviewer.
3. Talking negatively: Don’t focus on the negativity. The question from the interviewer side can come with a negative connotation but you don’t have to get emotional and say words like ‘this will be not less than any nightmare to me if I get rejected’ or ‘I will be devastated’ etc. Talk with a professional tone without getting emotional at all. We all know that would be bad in case you could not make it but don’t let such feelings come up during your interview at any cost.
Preparing your answer:
As already stated, your answer to this question will help the hiring manager or the college faculty in knowing you much better. This would help them to understand whether your professional goals and expectations for a particular role match what they want and what they can provide. For preparing the answer to this question you need to keep in mind the above tips.
The structure of the answer can go like:
1. Clearing your goals: Even though you would have mentioned these earlier, again state your short term goals to create a backdrop for your answer. These goals can be ‘taking up more difficult and challenging tasks in hand’ or ‘getting the proper exposure to the corporate world’ etc.
2. State your reason for applying there: Mention why did you apply to that particular company or college. Is it because of the job position excited you? Is it because that company holds a better image in the market than your previous company? Or being a student, why you feel that particular college to be worth joining?
3. State your next step: Begin with the words like ‘I thought a lot about it and I couldn’t think of any next best alternative than……’ or ‘A rational person has to have an alternative plan and so mine is…..’ then state your Plan B. Be sure on your reason for the same. The answer cannot be called ‘a complete answer’ unless and until you give the reason for your Plan B.
I feel myself to be interested in this company because of its advancements and achievements. The reason for applying to this job position is that it is being offered by your company. I have worked in such a job-profile during my previous jobs as well. So, I think I will quickly understand all the work that would be required to do. Provided that I do not get this job, I will surely try my luck the next time whenever your company releases the vacancy job in the market. Till then I will try to have more industry experience being in association with my current company.
I have dedicated nearly ten years of my life working in the finance field. I hold a good amount of exposure in this field. From working as a freelancer to being an employee of various corporations, I have gathered a lot of experience and knowledge. Provided your company offers a good position in its finance department, I could not resist myself from applying to the job. If things do not work my way for this job then I will continue to look for another job in another company in the same field until I find the one that suits my vision and will help me in attaining my goals.
I have worked with many companies in the past ten years. In some of them, I have worked as the marketing manager while in some I have worked at some different job positions which were in a way associated with the marketing task of the company. Your company holds a good name in the ‘marketing’ world and being a person who is linked with marketing for so long, working with your company is my dream. In case this dream could not get fulfilled this time, I will continue to look for some other vacancies that are linked with marketing-work within your company only.
All through my academic life and the years of corporate experience, I have focused on learning as much as I can. Be it any training session or any seminar during my college or working years I have always tried to explore and learn something new. I feel I am a suitable candidate for the seat that your institute offers. But in case I could not make it to your college, I will try to gain some more experience in my current job and will again apply to your college the next year with some more preparations and enhanced qualifications or credentials.
After completing my post-graduation I took up a job with ‘The Stars Private Ltd.’. I have been in this industry for the past two years and gained a lot of exposure and experience while working with my former organization I am thankful to my previous employer for believing in me and giving me all those opportunities that have made me what I am today. However, now I feel moving ahead and searching for a better job position. Your company offers a job that has more challenging situations to tackle. I am excited about the opportunities it will bring. Unfortunately, if I do not get selected I will consider broadening the dimension of my search for the jobs to include some different industries for more exposure.
I hold all the qualifications and credential those your institute desires in its upcoming student batch. I have a good score of national level entrance test, my pre-academic results have been impressive since ever and I hold good command in soft skills and practical knowledge as well. Having said that, I would like to clearly state that I have not given a thought about any Plan B till now but if I do not get selected by your institute then I will apply and try to convert some other institute which will offer me the same level of exposure and knowledge as your institute does.
As I earlier mentioned one of my future goals is to lead a finance team in the capacity of its head. Working in a company always excites me. More than that being its head and working on some big challenging project lures me. I have applied for this job as this is a natural fit for my prior business administration experience. Having mentioned that, in the worst-case scenario, if I do not get selected by your company because of any reason I will continue working in the ‘finance’ field. I will stay associated with it by working as a freelancer and keep on building my credentials stronger until I get an opportunity for a job that is parallel to my career dreams and goals.
Some examples representing a bad answer to this question:
I have worked with ‘The Sunny’ industries for the last five years as the co-head of its production department. I had a whole team of 50 employees at a time and I feel very proud of mentioning that I handled them very well. There was no chaos ever created in any of our projects due to a large number of people in the team. Being their head, I have learned a lot. I am applying here because of the position your company offers. I am interested in the position of ‘Head of the production department’. In case I do not get this position, I think that will be a loss to your company, I got nothing to lose.
I have worked hard a lot to come to this position. I possess all the qualities that are required to perform the task of the job that your company is offering. In-fact I possess many more qualities that required for the position. I will be a valuable asset to your company without any doubt. As your company is new in the industry and I hold a good experience of it, I think you should hire me for your benefit. Frankly speaking, I don’t find any reason on your part to reject me. So, I have not even given a thought to any Plan B.
Sir, I have worked very hard to come to this level. I have always tried to do a level more than all my other batch mates. I used to work even at nights during my school days. Getting into your college has been my dream since ever. I just want to be in association with you through the institute-student relation. Honestly, I will be devastated if I did not get this admission. I have not even thought of some other college offering the same course because I always wanted to join this institute. I request you to please do not reject me.