Looking for a New Job – What to Say and What to Avoid

If you want to avoid job-searching for longer than necessary, give this a read first. We’ve rounded up a few essential do’s and don’ts for communicating why you’re seeking new employment which should help you avoid the pitfalls inherent to answering this delicate question.

1. Don’t malign your boss, organization or duties

First, let’s start with what not to do. The easiest way to disqualify yourself from future opportunities is to speak negatively about your most recent job. Speaking negatively about your boss is likely to leave the interviewer envisioning you badmouthing him or her (or other coworkers) in the future. You should never give anyone an excuse to believe that you may not be a good team player. Furthermore, disparaging your employer or colleagues can spread in other ways, many of which are difficult to anticipate. It’s a small world, and you never know who may become your boss, interviewer, coworker, etc. in the future.

Finally, this rule extends beyond criticism of peers and of the organization. You should also avoid maligning the work you were asked to complete. Most jobs include tasks that are boring, repetitive or less-than-enjoyable – chances are your future manager wouldn’t be happy to hear about how much you dislike those tasks included in a discussion about why you’re looking for a new role, since this role will almost certainly include some similar activities

2. Do talk about wanting a new opportunity for the right reasons

Although we’ve spent the first part of this article outlining all the ways it can be dangerous to talk about your previous role(s), you’ll inevitably have to address the topic in an interview. Fortunately, there are some ways to frame your desire to move into a new role in a positive light. As a general rule of thumb, you want to make your future goals the focus of the conversation. This way, you come across as excited about a new opportunity and not just as someone running away from a previous opportunity. Talking about the desire for a big change in your career path, highlighting a new opportunity’s improved options for long-term career growth within your current field, pointing out a desire to work in an organization of a different size or type, or highlighting the need for a change in the structure of the job (schedule, flexibility) are all examples of appropriate ways to explain why you’re looking for new employment.

3. In cases where you were fired, tell the truth about the basic reason why.

For our last point, remember this: sometimes the truth is hard, but being caught in a lie is harder. Layoffs are understandable, and if you’re able to explain what happened as an unfortunate episode you’re working to move on from, your interviewer should be able to look past it in most cases. Even past disciplinary issues can be explained, particularly if you can speak to how you’ve learned your lesson and taken steps to correct the issue. Taking care to operate in good faith and owning responsibility for your career will go far towards proving yourself as a candidate for a new role. Following the simple steps outlined here should allow you to shine in an interview and give you a chance for a fresh start at a new organization.

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