Though philosophers disagree on what can be an object of loyalty–whether only another human being, or also some group, religion, country, or an organization such your employer, things are more straightforward in the interviews. Hiring managers aren’t interested in whether you are loyal to your wife or husband. Or maybe they are interested–they are humans after all, and we human have this strange habit of taking interest in private matters of other people. Yet what they principally have on their mind when asking the question is a loyalty of an employee.

They wonder how loyal you are to your employers. Will you quit with the first crisis, or jump ship as soon as a better offer rings your inbox? Or will you hang tight to the ropes, whether the storm, and stay in the company even when others are leaving? Obviously your resume tells a lot about your loyalty. If you are thirty five and have already changed ten jobs, telling them fairy-tales about how loyal you are to the companies you work for won’t do the trick….

However, this question is typical in entry-level job interviews, when your resume tells nothing about your employee loyalty. It says almost nothing at all, because you’re still too young to fill those blanks on it, and hence they may ask about some issue that may be obvious to them with older and more experienced candidates.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. I tried to include also some unconventional answers on my list. Give them some thought, and pick an answer for your interview, ideally one which resonates with your values, and the message you want to convey in the interviews, while trying to impress the hiring managers, and get the job.

 

7 sample answers to “What does loyalty mean to you?” interview question

  1. For me, employee loyalty in a sense means the same like loyalty you have to your partner. You know, to be with them both in good and bad times, in health and sickness, when things are great but also when you feel like everything is going to the devil, and there’s almost no way out. Of course, we live in a free economy, and we have so many choices. When you have skills and experience, you can always get a job somewhere. But I really believe that just like any other good relationship, the relationship of an employee and an organization should not fall apart with the first challenge or conflict. At least that’s how I see it.
  2. Loyalty means to me being devoted to someone, or something. But of course, “devoted” is just another expression, and what does it really mean? In the world of corporations, I believe loyalty means sharing the goals with the employer, working on a common cause, and seeing a meaningful purpose in what the organization tries to achieve. You shouldn’t be in just for money, just like you shouldn’t be in a marriage just for sex. It is as simple as that. Because such things are perishable and the grass does always look greener somewhere else. If there isn’t a deeper bond between you and the company, you won’t stay long with them. That’s how I would characterize loyalty, and I can assure that I see a meaningful purpose in what you do here.
  3. My relationship to your bank is a prime example of loyalty. I have had an account with you for over a decade now. Have recommended your bank to my family members and acquaintances. When someone asks me to name five corporations in the US, you will always be on the list, because you are always on my mind, and I have only positive associations when it comes to your brand. And now, when I lost my job due to the pandemic, and have to look for a new one, it is your place where I submitted my job application, and try to get a job with. If this isn’t a loyalty to an organization, I do not know what is.
  4. Loyalty is something I’ve been missing in my life so far. Speaking honestly, people haven’t been very loyal to me. My ex-husband especially, literary having one affair after another. And my last employer? Well, I believe loyalty is a mutual thing. I did what I could for the company, but how did they pay me back? When I was struggling and needed help, they turned their back on me… You know, I almost have a feeling that loyalty is a myth, or just an ideal which some people foolishly believe to be real. Having said that, I desire nothing more than having a great experience with some employer, or another human being, and finally having some loyalty in my life.

 

  1. Loyalty has been my big weakness so far. As you can see on my resume, I’ve already changed seven jobs, and I am yet to reach thirty-five years of age. You know, as an engineer I’ve always had many offers on my table. This company promised this, another one promised that, and so on. I fell for the “next shiny thing syndrome” more than once in life, eventually finding out that it was a mistake. But I want to change. This time around, I did a really good research about your company, working environment, projects you work on here, career growth opportunities, and just then submitted my application. Because this time I want to stay with someone for years, and I sincerely believe your organization is an excellent candidate. So if I can ask you for a favor: when deciding whether to hire me or not, do not put too much emphasis on the fact that I’ve changed so many jobs up to this point. I want to finally overcome this weakness, and be a loyal employee.
  2. Working with a lot of sensitive data in my last job, loyalty has a rather broader meaning to me. It doesn’t only mean to stay with the company, to be ready to sacrifice something for your employer–for example working overtime when a deadline looms. It also means to keep things private, to not share any sensitive information from work with anyone–including your spouse, simply to keep stuff confidential at all costs. And I must say that loyalty has always been important to me, be in in my private or professional life. It definitely sits there close to the top of my list of values.
  3. Speaking honestly, to me it is just another corporate buzzword which has little to do with loyalty. Sure, it is easy for Google or Tesla to have loyal employees, when they pay them the salaries they do pay them. But go and ask an owner of a restaurant at a corner, or of some small startup with uncertain future, or a manager of a call center. They will tell you it is a complete myth, and I think the same. People are selfish, they care for their well-being before anything else. It isn’t sad in my view, it is simply reality. As long as they get what they want–in an employment, in a marriage, or in any other form of relationship, they will stay. Once they stop getting it, or are offered something better somewhere else, they will leave. Employee loyalty is a myth, and I am an honest job candidate, telling you things as they are. I am ready to stay with you for years as long as I can grow in the company professionally, and my salary grows accordingly. If that’s not the case, I will leave. And the same is true for other people, though they may not be able, or willing, to express their thoughts openly in an interview.

 

Loyalty can be your strength, one of your core values, or even something you’ve been missing in life

Frankly it doesn’t matter whether you were extremely loyal to your past employers or not, as long as you can explain it in the interviews. Maybe you’ve left your last employer after six months, and the previous one after two months. Fair enough, as long as you can say what went wrong (and it should be something serious), and ensure the interviewers that you are ready to draw a thick line, and finally stay with someone for years.

Or, on the contrary, you’ve been loyal all your life. Always supporting the same sports club, the same political party. You’ve never cheated on your wife, and you cannot imagine someone doing that. Loyalty sits atop of your core values, and you are ready to apply it to the new relationship in your life–the one you will have with the employer. What happened, happened. Explain it properly in the interviews, and you will convince them that you can be a loyal employee.

Stand out with an unconventional answer

Speaking honestly, questions of this sort (“What does [xyz] mean to you?”) offer a lot of room for discussion, philosophy, and creativeness. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why companies like to include at least one such question in the interviews? Your individuality can shine in your answer, and you can definitely say something the hiring managers will remember long after you are gone from the interview room. And in some cases–for example when you apply for a popular entry level job and compete with twenty other applicants, it is the most important thing–to be on their mind at the end of a long hiring day.

Check sample answers no. 4 and no. 7 on my list. In the first instance, the applicant talks openly about their husband cheating on them, and their former employer letting them down, calling loyalty a myth. At the same time, however, they express an honest desire to finally experience loyalty in some relationship. Such an answer can easily sent shivers down the spine of any empathic person.

The candidate from sample answer no. 7 takes things even further. Calling people selfish and labeling employee loyalty “just another corporate buzzword“, they may sound bitter, but at the same time they are extremely honest, and they give the hiring managers some food for thought. And that’s never a bad outcome of an interview answer.. Maybe you can try to do the same?

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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