(Read Part 1 here)
Having considered the importance of not taking the interviewer’s style on a personal basis and also answering the question on ‘where you see yourself in 'x' number of years' in the first part of this series, this second part takes on more questions you might need to provide answers to during the course of an interview.
We will start with this: 'Why do you want to leave your current employer?'
Obviously, this applies basically to those who are looking to jump ship; switch organisations without officially resigning their positions and being officially 'jobless' first. No, there is nothing wrong with this, aside the fact that it paints you to be a very careful person. Depending on how this is interpreted by your interviewer, it might be detrimental if an adventurous person is needed to fill the position you are going in for.
Now to answering the question proper – as always, when confronted with questions like this one, it is important to know the aim of the questions. Here, it is quite simple; your interviewer is trying to understand and evaluate your motives for moving. Please try not to over-analyse some questions, keep it simple where necessary. Some questions are as straightforward as they sound and require answers in the same vein.
It is really difficult to answer questions like these without slighting your last place of work, but any valid answer to this question should be given without disparaging your present or immediate past job/organisation. If you do that, then you might just be setting yourself up - not to get hired, as no organisation would want you to speak such words of them in public and definitely not to their competitors - direct or indirect, especially when you are looking to 'jump ship' within the same industry, again!
Away from what you shouldn't do now, you should attempt in the most subtle manner to state how you need a new challenge, more responsibilities, a change of working environment and whatever other reasons apply to your situation. Also, don't just state these reasons – explain why you feel you are no longer receiving these from your current role and organisation.
A good example should look like this: 'I [have] work[ed] with my current company for X years and I do feel I have learnt and delivered as much as possible functioning in my role as Y and there are presently no opportunities for a higher role which would provide new experiences.’
While painting your picture, you should also do well to state what you brought to the table and why you feel you would succeed in a higher role even without prior experience.
A possible follow up question here is - 'What do you dislike about your current role?'
This question might as well come isolated and not as a follow up. You might need to be apply caution with this one. While this helps your potential employers understand your strengths in order to place you in positions that would optimise your potential. The down side is that it might reveal and draw unnecessary attention to some of your weaknesses. The best way to go about this is to pick some holes in the characteristics of your present organisation. You could express displeasure at the size of the company or sluggishness in their decision making process. Note that you would have to back these up with explanations as to how they affect your current role. Attempt to also give answers with the air of someone who takes these problems and frustrations in your stride, as a part of the job. Also speak of your ability to function optimally even in the midst of these hurdles.
Finally, a quick look at your happiness or otherwise in relation to your whole career - questions that aim at ascertaining your level of happiness with your career so far usually come in thus: 'Are you happy with your career till date?', 'How much joy has your career brought you?'...
If at all there is any point worth telling you, your answer must be 'yes'! That is the only answer to this question. Go on, state all possible highs and how you have progressed and steadily, making impressive climbs up the ladder with each role you have functioned in across organisations. The only condition in which you should offer a negative response to questions of this sort should be on grounds that the response would showcase some strengths you possess, especially in your character. Sharing a genuine career plateau should only be done if you are positive it would buy some sympathy or earn you some points.
Answering questions pertaining to strengths and weaknesses are usually tricky. In the next and final installment of this series, we shall take an in-depth look at these.
By Paterson Mgbeoji.