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How to Answer 'Why Are You Looking for a New Job?' in an Interview



There are many challenging interview questions, and "Why are you looking for a new job?" certainly falls into that category. Let's admit, it's a pretty frustrating question that can really throw you during an interview. But being prepared will make all the difference.


Whatever your reasons are, you want to be honest but discrete. You don't want to slam your current boss or colleagues, or tell your prospective employer that you don't make enough money. These are all huge turn offs and will get you quickly into the "no (and we never want to see you again)" pile. The most important thing is to keep it positive. Here is a list of perfectly valid reasons for looking for a new job that aren't going to get you anywhere in an interview:

"My boss and I don't get along."


"I don't get any credit for my work."

"I want to make more money."


"I haven't been promoted or been promised the things I expected when I started my job."

Instead, the following approaches will help you advance further.

Address any issues. If the reason you are looking for a new job is likely to surface at some point, you need to be honest. For example, if you were laid off, tell your

prospective employer. And you should be up front and tell them why. If it's something that you were at fault for, such as aggressive behavior toward a colleague, you can bet your former employer is probably going to tell human resources. While it's not easy, you need to determine how to frame that in an appropriate way.


Focus on the job at hand. We're always told to focus on the present and not dwell on the past. Use that advice in your interview. Let the interviewer know you are not just looking for any old job. If it's genuine, tell them why you feel this is a good match for the company and for you. Be specific. Beyond assessing whether you're a good fit for the team or company and if they think you have staying power, they're not going to want to hear only about your objectives. Your main focus should be on how you fulfill what they're looking for, and why you think you can add value to the position.


Present positive reasons for making a switch. Looking beyond the toxic work environment that you're in, what do you want out of your career in the short and long term? Maybe there's a skill you've begun to develop at your current job that you feel could be enhanced in a role like this one. Perhaps you've been in the same industry for some time and have always wanted to get into this new one (be sure to tell them why). If you're making a bigger transition, such as from nonprofit to private or government to private, prepare specific reasons for wanting to do so that aren't focused on salary.


Be honest, but cautious. If you've advanced as far as you can in your current role, that's OK to say in an interview, but you need to briefly explain why in a diplomatic way. Don't tell them your co-worker is holding you back. Maybe you feel like you want to be an expert in a certain field and you don't have the opportunity to do that where you are now. That's a fine sentiment but you need to be ready to say why.

Stay the course. While this won't always happen, you may have an interviewer who tries to push you into a corner and test you. They may ask something like, "You're likely making six figures at your current job. Why would you want to come here and make less?" Maintain your story. It's not about the money; it's about professional development and fulfillment, which you don't have in your current job.


Remember, keep it positive. Beyond that, stay focused on the current opportunity rather than the past. What is it that excites you about this particular company and job? You shouldn't go overboard by reciting everything you know about the company, but you need to express one or two specific reasons that demonstrate why you're thrilled about the opportunity.



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