Why Are You Looking For a New Job?
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Show Your Enthusiasm for New Opportunities and Challenges
You got the interview because the hiring manager's staff liked your resume—so why do they care about what’s driving your job search? In short, they want to make sure that if they hire you, you’ll be happy, and you won’t be in another interview room in short order searching for a different “new opportunity.” It costs companies money to recruit, hire and train a new staffer, so they want to be assured that they fill the position with the right person.
You Love the Company
If you’re interviewing with a high-profile company that rarely has openings, feel free to gush about how excited you are that an opportunity is presenting itself. Companies with low turnover rates know they’re attractive employers, so if you’re interviewing for your dream job, be honest.
For example, you may say something like, “Everyone in this industry knows you are not only the best, but that you also have an excellent maternity leave plan. I was thrilled to read about your expansion and your hiring plans.”
You Want a Challenge
While you never want to put down the company you’re leaving, it’s acceptable to admit you want to challenge yourself professionally with a new role. There’s a right and wrong way to do it:
Wrong: “My last job was a total dead end. I wasn’t going anywhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were out of business in a year. I decided to get out before I went down with the ship.”
Right: “I really love to push myself and to explore different aspects of graphic design. The possibilities are endless, and I want to be in an environment where I’m encouraged to grow and develop and harness my creativity in a way I haven’t been positioned to do before.”
You’re Changing Industries
Many women follow multiple career paths during the course of their professional lives, so it won’t be any surprise if you’re switching gears and going in an entirely new direction. Preface this announcement, however, by simultaneously talking about how previously-learned skills and traits will transfer into the new role.
“I’ve worked as a mortgage lender for more than 10 years and learned a tremendous about how the local real estate market operates. I decided to get my real estate agent’s license over the summer, and now I’m ready to dive in and take on this new challenge. Fortunately, I bring a lot great contacts in the lending business with me!”
You’re Stepping Up or Stepping Back
During the course of your working life, at some point you might choose to step back from your career for a period of time to pursue your own business or care for kids or aging parents. On the flip side, you’re also going to have periods where you’re raring to go. Maybe it's when the kids are in school, that second degree is complete and you’re ready to hit the ground running. Any time you have a change in life circumstances that prompt a professional change, embrace them, especially when you’re asked why you want a job. The follow answers would work in an interview.
“In addition to feeling like I’d be an asset to this company because of my award-winning photography skills, I also love the idea of the flexible, part-time schedule this position allows for.”
“I decided to start my own marketing firm when my kids were young, and as fulfilling as it was for me, I missed the camaraderie of a bustling workplace. I’m eager to be back in an office environment where people can bounce ideas off of each other, brainstorm and collaborate.”
“I made a decision three years ago to step back from my full-time position to focus on my twin daughters. I did some consulting work during that time, and I thoroughly enjoyed being there for my kids. They’re in preschool now, and my husband is in a position to move into part-time work with his company, so I’m ready to jump right back into full-time work.”
What Not to Say
Of course, there are many other reasons you may be looking for a job, including layoff, termination, downsizing, company closure or a poor work environment. Make every effort to put a positive spin on your answer to this question if you’re dealing with a tricky situation. You could say:
“Like many small technology companies, we were bought by a larger company and the staff was cut from 50 to four. Fortunately, I learned a lot during my time there, and I think I can be a real asset to this company.”
“Unfortunately, my last law firm just wasn’t a great fit for me. I’m very straight-laced and business-focused, and the environment was too casual for me. Great, talented people and interesting work there, but I’m looking for something different.”
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Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.