By Beth Colley
One question that many job seekers seldom prepare for during an interview is answering the question, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” This may also be asked as "Why are you looking for a job?"
This question can make the most seasoned interviewee squirm a little because of the first word; why. A question starting with "why" immediately places you on the defensive.
If there is anything that is dissatisfying about your current position, this is where you might unwittingly share that information and unintentionally emit a negative vibe -- a very bad impression to make.
Some of the most common, and easiest to explain, reasons for leaving a job include:
When answering this question, it’s easy to think about all of the things you dislike about your current job, but don't go there.
Unless you are part of a well-publicized corporate implosion (e.g. Enron) or reorganization, stay positive in your response. Start by responding with “What I really like about this job and company that is different from my current one is…”
Take the opportunity to share what you’ve learned about the potential new company (demonstrating your interest in the opportunity). Talk about the environment and culture of this company, and how you feel it’s a strong match with your strengths and experience.
Demonstrating your buy-in to the company’s brand and culture is a good way to sell yourself as a match.
Most importantly, you want to demonstrate that you are dignified and professional, and will not talk disparagingly about another company or boss.
According to several resources, the number one reason most people voluntarily leave one position for another is because of a bad boss or supervisor. There may be a combination of reasons as to why you want to leave this job, but most all of them will likely tie back to poor management or a bad supervisor.
So, knowing that you shouldn’t say anything negative regarding a company or individual supervisor in an interview, how should you answer this question? If you speak poorly of a company or boss during an interview, what proof does the potentially new employer have to believe that you wouldn’t say the same thing to a customer or coworker in the new company? Everyone knows that would be bad for business.
It’s best to avoid going down the slippery slope of discussing specifics regarding compensation, poor management, company finances, poor morale, or any other negative aspect of the job.
You can gloss over negative information by focusing on the future and staying positive, stating something like:
Using phrases like that still keeps the mood positive, but allows the employer to read between the lines. It also shows that you want to contribute positively to the success of your employer.
You can also just share your interest in this opportunity by saying something like:
You can demonstrate your interest in this new employer by saying:
Be honest, postive, and frame your response in a way that includes the job you are interviewing for.
If asked this question on an interview, remember to keep it positive, promote yourself and your accomplishments, and follow the old adage of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Beth Colley CEO/owner of Chesapeake Career Management Services has guided over 1,200 job seekers to career success since joining the careers industry in January of 2000. She is a Certified Master Resume Writer, a Certified Career Management Coach, and a Certified Brain Based Success Coach and an active member of Career Directors International, The National Resume Writers Association, and Career Thought Leaders.