I’ll repeat what I said in another thread first to put things into context:
“I have a BS in microbiology. As an undergraduate, I was a research assistant in an academic lab for 6 months. After I finished undergrad, I attended a Ph.D. program for about 1.5 years and then dropped out without getting any degree. In grad school, I rotated in a bunch of labs and joined a lab very briefly. After I dropped out of grad school, about half a year later (in May 2012), I started working at a company as a research assistant, which is where I am now.”
When an employer asks me what my future plans are, I don’t know how to come up with a good answer. I don’t want to go back to grad school to get a Ph.D. I want to work as a research associate doing hands-on benchwork. In a few phone interviews and one in-person interview, I said that I might want to get a Master’s degree in the future so I can still do hands-on benchwork but do more complex tasks and have more independence. I don’t know if that’s a good explanation, though. On my very first in-person interview, I just said that I want to keep doing research as a research associate and I didn’t get hired for that position.
I’m applying for research associate positions in industry and academia. In my situation, what exactly do employers want to hear when they ask a candidate what their future plans are? What do they not want to hear?