One of the most common, but most challenging questions in a job interview is why you are looking for a new position. To properly answer this question, it’s important to understand what the interviewer wants to know and how to present it in a balanced way. Here are some tips.
What the Interviewer Is Looking for
This question may be difficult to answer, but it really isn’t a trick. The interviewer wants to understand your career goals, why your previous position no longer met them, and how the new position will be a better fit for you. Therefore, it’s best to remain positive, or at least neutral, about your old job and focus primarily on the new position.
Framing Your Response
Your ultimate goal is to help the interviewer feel assured that the new job is in line with your career ambitions. Frame your response in a way that is truthful but forward-facing. For example, you might say that you went as far as you could in your previous job or that you are seeking the challenge of working for a bigger company. If you’re relocating, talk about why you decided to move (without straying too far into personal topics). If you were laid off, give a succinct explanation of what happened.
Tips for Developing Your Answer
- Be honest but don’t overshare
- Prepare in advance
- Stay positive or neutral, no matter what happened at your previous employer
- Practice in front of a mirror, but don’t memorize your answer word for word
- Remain on topic. Don’t give in to the impulse to keep talking
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The more complicated your reasons for leaving your previous job, the more likely it is that you will stumble through your explanation. Prepare in advance by developing a succinct, honest response that focuses on the future instead of the past.