The one question most candidates dread is, “Why do you want to leave your current position?”
You cannot say “My boss is a jerk,” or “The work environment is toxic.” If you do, the interviewer will likely think, “Next candidate please!”
When asked this question, you absolutely, positively avoid saying anything negative. There are two reasons to not go negative:
- It will give the impression that you may be part of the problem. There are two sides to every story. The interviewer knows they are only hearing one side.
- By getting negative in an interview, you cannot avoid degrading your own attitude. If you followed my instructions in my post 3 Steps to Walking Into Your Interview with Confidence, you will be feeling good about yourself. This is key!
Pivot the Answer to What You Want
When you are asked the Why do you want to leave your current position? question, you can respond in the following way:
My current job is fine (which may or may not be true), but what I am looking for is…and then state what you are looking for in your next position.
Next, ask a question about the possibilities of getting what you want. For example:
Can you tell be about the initiatives you have in the areas of…?
It is important that you, rather than the interviewer, redirect or pivot the conversation back in a direction that you want to take.
Be prepared for the interviewer to probe for more information, but absolutely do not go there. Resist the urge at all costs.
I have previously written about three client examples. Take a look at these now:
- Robert – A political science lecturer at a major university
- James – An HR executive for a major insurance company
- Mary – A marketing professional for a technology company
All three examples were derived from real situations. In all three situations, the interviewee had a planned response prepared for the dreaded question.
Being Prepared with Interview Questions
You should come into any interview with at least 10 questions that you would like to get answered. Print them out and keep them in front of you. Take notes and record the interviewer’s answers on the paper. By writing down the responses, it gives you time to think about where to take the conversation next!
Controlled pauses (that is my term) give you a chance to think about the flow of the conversation. Another example of a controlled pause is to restate the question you were just asked. Let me make sure I understand your question. You asked…
Remember it is YOUR DAMN INTERVIEW!
Be prepared for the most common questions and the dreaded question – why do you want to leave your current position?
Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers