Questions about your present, or most recent, job can be tricky and if you aren’t careful you can ruin your chances by making negative or undiplomatic comments. So make sure you are prepared.
In an ideal world, we’d all get on brilliantly with the boss and our colleagues – and we’d love every minute of the job. If this were the case, it’s very unlikely we’d ever look for another post. In the real world, the reason you want to leave a job may well be that you don’t get on with the boss or your immediate supervisor, or that the routine has become mind-numbingly boring.
However terrible your present job, the interview is not the time to discuss it. You must be professional and don’t forget, if you are offered the position, the people interviewing you will be your boss and colleagues and they don’t want to work with someone who will complain about them at the first opportunity.
What questions might you be asked about your recent work history?. How do you get on with your boss?. And how about your colleagues?. Why do you want to leave?. What do you dislike about your job?.Let’s start with the first two.
How do you get on with your boss or your colleagues?.Whatever the reality, you must give a positive answer. You could say, for example, that you have a good working relationship and that you have always found your boss helpful and supportive; there is a good team spirit and you get on well with your colleagues or that you work together effectively. If you are asked for specific faults in your boss or co-workers, don’t be tempted to run anyone down. This question is not about them, it’s about you and your loyalty. So never say anything against anyone you work with or have worked with in the past. If you feel you can’t honestly give any of the above answers, really think about the people you work with and find something positive that you could say about them.
Why do you want to leave your present job?.You need to think carefully about this one, as employers don’t want to think that you hop from job to job, get bored quickly or are more interested in your after work activities. If there is an obvious reason, such as the end of your contract, redundancy, or you are moving to a different area, say so. Many people are reluctant to say that they have been made redundant, but remember that it’s the post which has been redundant, not you.
What do you say if the truth is that you are bored to death in your present post?.Think carefully about why you are applying for the job in question. What do you think it will give you that your present job does not?. Money and longer holidays are the wrong answers. If these are the real reasons, you may well end up just as bored in this job. Take a close look at what the company has to offer. Will it give you an opportunity which is lacking in your present post, for example, to develop existing skills or learn new ones?. Or will you have the chance to use specific qualifications or abilities, such as foreign languages, which aren’t needed in your present post?. Is there the possibility of advancement, receiving mentoring or taking on new responsibilities which you are unable to do now?.What do you dislike about your job?.Again, caution is needed. If you say that you specifically dislike something, it may be a part of the new job, which would indicate you didn’t read the job description properly and that you’ll dislike this job just as much.
You could say that you enjoy your job but feel ready for something more challenging or that you have learned a great deal but are now ready to move to a post in which you will have more responsibility.
The bottom line – before applying for a new job, make sure you can give positive reasons for leaving the old one and clear motivation for choosing the new one – and never criticise any of your co-workers.
© Waller Jamison 2005.