When asked “Why are you leaving your current position?” you should focus on the opportunity ahead and avoid badmouthing your current or former employer, manager or team. In this episode, I show you a simple, four-step approach to help you formulate a convincing answer.
Hi, and welcome to today’s episode, which is about the common interview question,”Why are you leaving your current position?” With this question, the interviewer wants to learn what motivates you, what work environment you thrive in and how you talk about your current or former employer. Now, there might be different reasons for you planning to change jobs. Maybe you are not even actively looking for new opportunities but were contacted by a headhunter for the position you are interviewing for. Whatever your specific situation, there are some general recommendations on how to answer this question and how not to answer it. Your focus should be on positive reasons – not negative ones. Focus on the opportunity ahead and avoid badmouthing your current or former employer, manager or team, even if you have legitimate reasons for not being satisfied. Why? First of all, it can lead to the interviewer perceiving you as problem-focused, leaving them with the feeling you might complain a lot if they hire you. Secondly, you want the interviewer to focus on what is positive about you, and bringing up many negative things can make them subconsciously shift focus towards negative aspects as well. And finally, talking badly about others simply is unprofessional and will not put you in a good light. So, how to answer this question then? Well, here comes a simple, four-step approach to help you formulate a convincing answer.
Step 1: What do you like about your current position?
Even if you don’t like your present job, try to identify 2-3 positive things about it. For example, maybe you had the chance to work on existing projects with new customers, or you developed some new skills, learned to work in a new industry or made an impact with your work. Or maybe you had a supportive manager or smart, skilled or inspiring colleagues.
Step 2: What opportunities do you see in the new position?
Try to identify at least three positive things that the job you are interviewing for offers. These should outweigh what you picked in the previous step. For example, maybe this job offers you the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, learn new skills, make an even more significant impact or deepen or broaden your knowledge. Or maybe you want to switch industries, work for a smaller or larger company or be in a new role.
Step 3: Formulate your answer.
Put together the results from the previous steps into a compelling answer. You could start by saying, “What I like about my current job is…” and then add what you identified in the first step. Then, you could say, “The reasons for me still being interested in this position are…” and then continue with what you identified in the second step. For example, “What I like about my current job is that I have the opportunity to develop my project management skills, work with inspiring colleagues and can contribute to improving some of the internal processes. I am still interested in this position because I could manage larger projects, work with new technologies and make an even bigger impact with my work, since the projects affect thousands of customers who use your services daily.”
Step 4: Be prepared for follow-up questions.
Most interviewers will like the answer you prepared in the previous step and move on to the next question. However, some might want to challenge you by asking something like, “Thanks for your answer. Is there anything that you think could be improved at your current job?” Now, as mentioned before, you should avoid badmouthing your present employer, so the best way to handle this follow-up question is to have an objective, non-judgmental example of what could be improved. It shouldn’t be personal, like conflicts or a missed promotion, nor complaints about the work environment, workload or similar. Maybe there has been a re-organization, a merger or an acquisition, and your role’s focus changed. Or you would like to transition into a new position or develop specific, new skills, and there are no opportunities to do so. Or perhaps your current employer has changed direction and the new vision is not as aligned with what motivates you as the old one was. For instance, in our previous example, you could say, “One thing that I miss at my current employer is a larger variety of different projects. The focus has been mainly on process improvement projects with little opportunity to work with other areas. That’s why I, after three years, feel ready to move on.”
These were the four steps to answering the interview question, “Why are you leaving your current position?” Thanks for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.