If you’re job seeking while employed, you’re probably going to asked the question, “why are you looking for a new job?” Here’s how to answer it without getting in trouble.
There are a few standard questions that you can expect to be asked in a job interview. If you’re already employed while applying, one of these is likely to be “Why are you looking for a new job?” (If you’re not working, it will be “what did you leave your last job?” which is different but similar.)
The question can be a delicate one to answer, particularly if you’re leaving because you hate your job and/or your boss or colleagues. As we’ve discussed in the past, you should never, under any circumstances start trash talking anyone, no matter how tempted you are. You also don’t want to give the impression that you’re unreliable, and the sort who does things behind people’s backs, which is what you’re actually doing. You also don’t want to say you think you’re about the get fired so you’re trying to line something up before they can let you go.
So, how do you handle it? This way.
How to answer “why are you looking for a new job?”
Talk about why you’re interested in the company and position
You’ve done your research, so you know all the opportunities the role offers and all the great things about the company and its senior management team. Focus on that. Talk about how much you enjoy their products or services, admire their company culture and want to be a part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Say that when the role appeared you immediately felt that you would be a great fit.
Talk about how much you have to offer
Razzle dazzle ‘em and wow them with your skills and how perfect you are for the role. Emphasize what your skills and qualifications will bring and how you will contribute. This is a good place to highlight skills the position calls for and talk about how you don’t get to use them at your current job. If they want project management skills and you have them, talk about that and how eager you are to put them to good use and bring value to the company, and how, alas, they’re being squandered.
Speak positively about your current job
Say something nice about your employer and how much you’ve learned working there. Talk about how you had the chance to grow in the role and say that you get along great with your colleagues. Or something like that. Stick to the story that you want to leave for this particular job rather than saying that you’re ready to find any other job. Employers like it when they think you only want to work for them. It helps you avoid looking desperate and also from looking like a job hopper (though your resume will speak for itself if you are, in fact, a job hopper).
So your answer might look something like this:
“I have always admired Yummy Dog Food’s marketing campaigns and smart use of social media, and I love that you support animal rights initiatives. When I saw the posting for the Marketing Manager role I got excited. I have all the qualifications in your job description and would love to help you grow your brand and take charge of your Instagram and TikTok strategies. These are things am really good at. My personal Instagram account has 10,000 followers. But the structure over at Yucky Dog Food is such that I don’t get to use these skills and I feel that they’re going to waste. I enjoy working there. I like the people and culture and have learned a lot about native advertising and audience building. But this was just too exciting an opportunity to pass up.”
You’ve talked about the company, avoided speaking negatively about others, and sold your skills. You don’t have to say all these things, but try to get some of them in.
Don’t get caught off guard and do have this answer ready. If you know they’re probably going to ask it, you might as well be prepared.