21 Apr 2015

Interview Prep...

I always advise candidates of two key things when they have secured an interview...  The first is to ensure that you do your homework in terms of researching the company, the role and the person interviewing you.  The second is to never be too honest.  I was reminded of this second piece of advice last week when a candidate failed to secure a second interview with a top Manchester agency and they couldn't understand why.

The client had asked the question, 'Why do you want to leave your current job'.  A perfectly reasonable question and one that is asked in 99% of all interviews.  If you haven't prepared a good answer to this question then you really have failed in your preparation.

So imagine the conversation...

Employer: Why do you want to leave your current job?
Candidate: It would be a good job if my boss weren’t a psycho control freak and his boss weren’t an alcoholic crackhead.
Employer: Wow! Um, I’m out of time right now but — we’ll let you know.
Ok. I'm exaggerating (slightly), it wasn’t quite that bad but who can blame the employer for withdrawing the candidate from the process.
When answering why you are leaving your job, you should be careful not to harm your chances of getting hired – Certain things need not be revealed to interviewers.
At the end of the day, the new employers should know whether you can do the job, whether you will fit into the company culture and what is your motivation level.
You want to give the most truthful answer while:
  1. Not presenting any haphazard or negative image about yourself.
  2.  Not blaming your bosses because blaming others creates a negative idea about your professionalism.
  3. Not revealing any problematic (or personal) information.
QUESTION: Why do you want to leave your job?   Here are two answers to compare:
ANSWER 1: I don’t feel I’m going anywhere in my current job. The Morale in my department is very low, and the management doesn’t give feedback or rewards. I don’t like working there anymore.
ANSWER 2: After working in [your current company] for more than 5 years, where I have learned a lot on [your profession]- I am now a master/expert in [A, B, C] working plus managing people and exploring new markets for our products, it is time for me to move on and enhance my professional growth. I want to improve my overall skills by joining a larger and more progressive organization where I can learn/utilise [other skills] and experience in several different areas.  I am also ready to take more responsibilities and feel I am competent for X, Y, Z ..
The difference between the two answers is obvious – One is negative and the second is positive:
The first answer communicates too many negatives about your current job while the second one uses positive language – you have good thoughts on your current job (you are even grateful) and yet have clear-mind toward skills, accomplishments and future prospects.   It is important to stress the positive aspects by communicating strengths, purpose, and enthusiasm. You must make an impression that you are seating in front of the interviewer for a well thoughtful reason – You have an organised career plan, positive attitude and clear job target.

Leaving a job is no longer the stigma it once was. In fact, people who stay places for too long – especially with no almost change in their role or responsibilities – are much more suspect to many employers nowadays.
BUT … no matter what really happened, never talk trash about a former employer. A new employer will assume that you’ll do the same to them one day. So frame your answer in a way that shows you did well there (have examples prepared if at all possible) and got along well with co-workers. But for the reason(s) you select it’s now time to move on.
In general you want to focus interview answers, as much as possible, on where you’re going rather than where you’ve been. Even stories from the past should point to skills you want to use now. But you still have to answer the questions they ask, so be prepared!