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4 Terrible Ways to Answer “Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?” (And Some Better Alternatives).

By Charles Trivett | May 10, 2016 | Candidate Tips

interview - cartoons with man sweatingYou can bet your bottom dollar that at some point during the recruitment process, you’ll get asked: “so, what made you start looking for a new job?”

(Especially if you’re a so-called “job hopper” or haven’t been in your current company for long…)

Now, we usually advise our candidates to always ‘be themselves’ and that ‘honesty is the best policy.’

However… perhaps that is a little bit too hasty.

Below, you’ll find four common answers that you should never (ever) give your interviewer – along with some more impressive alternatives…

Why bother asking?

The question may seem harmless enough, but it can actually reveal an awful lot about you, to your interviewer. For example:

  • Are you fickle? Do you have a good, solid reason for leaving?
  • Were you let go? And if so, are you likely to be a trouble maker?
  • Did you leave on good/professional terms?
  • Is there a chance you might take a counter-offer?
  • What motivates and matters to you most? (Money, opportunity, your family?)
  • Will you fit in with their company and employees?

There are many great answers you could give (more on that later) but first, let’s see some of the worst ones.

1. “I Want/ Need/ Deserve More Money”

In an ideal world, your pay packet will increase, every time you secure a new job.

Everybody knows that.

However, potential employers also want to know that there’s more to your application than just a desire for money – they want to know that you’re genuinely interested in the position, the industry and the company too.

Because that means you’re much more likely to be passionate, loyal, committed and to fit in well with the rest of the team.

Don’t mention the money. Talk about something more meaningful instead.

For example:

“Although I’ve really enjoyed my time at {Company} and they’ve given me the opportunity to learn {Skill}, {Skill} and {Skill}, it’s time to move on and seek a new challenge – where I can fully utilise what I’ve learnt. Unfortunately, this isn’t available within my current company – and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future.”

It may sound cheesy, but it’s much better to say that you want more opportunities to grow with a company (which usually means you’ll get pay rise too) than ‘I want money.’

2. “I don’t get on with my boss.”

This is one of the worst things you could ever say to a potential employer.

Alarm bells will ring and they’ll immediately start thinking negative thoughts…

Are they a troublemaker? Are they unmanageable? Will I be able to deal with them?

It’s simply not worth the risk for them. (Recruitment isn’t cheap).

Always be positive. (We’ll get onto some good answers, later).

If you really, really must say something, make sure you phrase it in a positive way, for example, “we had differing ideas on the strategic direction of the business” – and be ready to expand (positively).

3. “I don’t fit in.”

Similarly, don’t admit that you struggled to get on with your co-workers.

These days, there’s a huge emphasis on hiring for “cultural fit” and if an employer thinks there is even the slightest chance you won’t get on with others,  you could get rejected.

For example: “I’m looking for a new opportunity within a vibrant, innovative company with a positive, sociable and friendly culture. I want to feel like I’m a part of something that’s more than just a day job.”

Like I said, always be positive and focus on the reasons you want to join the new company, rather than why you want to get away from your current one.

4. “I just hate it.”

So, when did the petulant child decide to show up?

At this point, your interviewer’s brain will (probably) go into overdrive…

Well, that’s inappropriate. Why did they take the job in the first place? Do you just not like working in general? Are you immature? What if you ‘just hate it’ here? Did you clash with other people? Are you just a terribly negative person who moans all the time?

What a great impression to make.

So what can you say?

The truth is; although you should always be yourself, there are certain topics that you should also avoid during an interview.

Prepare all of your answers so you don’t get caught out, use your common sense and above all else, be positive!

Recruiter Pro Tip

Always give answers that show how passionate you are about the new role, not how unhappy you are with your current one.

Here are some examples of great answers:

  • I’m looking for a new challenge that my current company can’t offer.
  • I want to join a company who I can learn and grow with.
  • I’m looking for something better suited to my long-term career goals.
  • I’d like to work for a company where my contribution can make a real difference.
  • I’ve always wanted to work at your company, because {Good Reason}.
  • I’d like to gain more responsibility.

See how each answer emphasises the positive, rather than negative circumstances?

For more information on the most common interview questions and how to answer them, click here.

NB: don’t forget to always frame your answer with something along the lines of ‘I’ve really enjoyed working at {Company} and am grateful for all I’ve learned, but…”

It makes the entire situation seem more positive.

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Good luck.

- Charles Trivett
Charles - blog author

Charles Trivett

Charles heads up Coburg Banks’ IT Division, and has worked in recruitment for nearly 20 years.  His knowledge of how to optimise and get the most from a recruitment campaign is second to none, and he now works with a select handful of clients in maximising their recruitment ROI.

> More blog posts by Charles Trivett

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