How to tell prospective employers why you are job hunting

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All prospective employers will be interested in knowing why you are looking for a new job, and the chances are that they will ask you during the course of the interview – it can be a great way of finding out whether you are suitable for the job or not. Of course, it all depends on how you answer the question. Here are some ways to ensure that you present yourself in the right way.

Be honest and positive

It may be tempting to lie about your reasons for job hunting, particularly if you were sacked from your last job. However, this is never a good idea – most companies do some kind of background check and will find you out at some point. If you were sacked, then try to explain why in a positive way, by perhaps saying that you weren’t a good fit for the company, but that you have learned from the experience and now know exactly what it is that you want. The same goes for if you quit your job. If you are still employed, then tell the interviewer about your hopes and plans for the future, without saying that you hate your current job.

Be prepared

The key is to be prepared. Presume that your interviewer is going to ask you about your reasons for job hunting, jot down some ways of answering the questions in advance, and if possible, practice your interview techniques by role playing with a friend. Being caught on the hop could mean that you stammer and stutter your way through an answer, while not having the chance to sell yourself as you should do. If you are really concerned about projecting the right impression, then it may be a good idea to contact a career advisor – they will be able to give you some objective tips to improve your presentation.

Don’t run down your previous employer

If your reason for leaving your last job was because of bad relations with your boss or colleagues, don’t be tempted to criticise them in your interview, no matter how much they deserve it. Potential employers will be concerned that you are a trouble-maker and will not fit well into a team of people – this may be very far from the truth, but they are judging you on a short interview and don’t know the full situation. If you can’t say anything positive about your previous employer, then stick to talking about the job and don’t be tempted to get personal.

Be different

As well as preparing for being asked about your reasons for job hunting, put some thought into why you want the new job. It may be as simple as needing a job to pay the bills, or wanting a job with better training and promotion opportunities. However, think of some specific reasons, ones that particularly fit the job that you are applying for, and put them in as original a way as possible. That way, you will stand out from the crowd and, even if your employer is concerned about your reasons for leaving your last job, he/she may well be willing to overlook it. Just don’t be tempted to be different by over-doing your clothes or make-up, particularly if you are applying for a professional job.

Don’t over-do things

It can be tempting, particularly if you are nervous, to explain in great detail why you left your last job. This really isn’t necessary. Your potential employer will be interested in the basics, but doesn’t need to know the ins and outs – if they do, then they will ask. If you talk too much, then you are more likely to spill the beans about a problem in your last job, when you are trying to avoid saying anything negative. If you do slip up, then try to resurrect the situation as quickly as possible, without panicking.

A job interview is nearly always a nerve-wracking experience, particularly if your last job was an unhappy one, but with some foresight, you should be able to present yourself as confident and sure that the job for which you are being interviewed is the one for you. And if you appear to have confidence in yourself, it will be catching!


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