Why do you want to change jobs?

Recently, I was interviewing an individual (“interviewee”) for a role. My first question was “why you for the role?” The interviewee very succinctly and passionately articulated a value proposition. I was impressed. As I listened to the response and watched the body language, I noticed a spark when the interviewee highlighted accomplishments, progress, and impacts all of which seemingly came from their current role(s). It was but natural for me think if everything is so good — Why do you want to change jobs?

Bang came a reply — I have discovered that my passion is towards people and I love people-related roles and looking to move into the domain. Hmmm… I paused and thought for a second. It was hard for me to fathom that if you have always been in Finance and never done a people related role then how do you know what a people related role entails? I felt like there was a bit of a baggage to the response. So, I probed — what about the people roles?

As the interviewee was responding and meandering, I paused and said — really why do you want to change jobs? Just say it in plain words. The response was going to be very important for me.

Before I tell you the end of this anecdote, I reassured the individual to just say it in plain words. I empathized with the interviewee’s situation. All of us put up our guards and want to be our best. In this particular situation, the interviewee’s response was going to tell me a lot about them — their candidness, positioning, authenticity, and more.

Later in the day, I started playing the question back to myself and wonder how would I answer it? The response is very situational but below are some tips:

  • Lead with your personal purpose — Most achievers lead and live with purpose. Leading with your personal purpose and where you want to be automatically positions you as an aspirer and an achiever.
  • Are you running towards vs. running away? — Follow up the personal purpose statement with how the role you are interviewing will get you further towards that goal and purpose. In that context intersperse, how your current role is limiting, delaying, or is an impediment to that future.
  • Let the interviewer know you are up for the current role — After you state it, close the conversation with how you are ready for the current role. If it is a “promotion” then just state your readiness, if it is a “horizontal” move then state your willingness to learn and grow.
  • Don’t be a negative nelly — Choose your words carefully. Remember, you still need to be at your best. It isn’t a counseling session and you are not in a bar venting/bashing everything that isn’t right. Your conversation should be about everything your career could be vs. everything that it isn’t.
  • Be Authentic and Articulate — One of the most common mistakes people do is finding a need to explain every detail. In doing so, they lose the other person. Structure your response and make it curious enough for the other person to probe if needed. Be Authentic. The rule is very simple — If you are trying too hard to say something without actually trying to say it — chances are you are beating around the bush and not being authentic.

The interviewee responded to be with all of the above. It was a bit weak on purpose and we both agreed that at an early stage of the career, the interviewee was just discovering the purpose. Now, this story progressed for another 30 minutes and had a happy ending with the words “You’re Hired” :-0).

Image Credit: https://stocksnap.io/photo/96E1A8F1CB

  1. […] installment in the “Interview Series”. In the last two posts we covered best ways to respond to Why do you want to change jobs? and Why should you hire me for this job? In this post, let’s look at this other often asked […]

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