I have hired people for a living for 25 years. When I ask an applicant the standard question “Why are you interested in leaving your job?” or “Why did you leave your last / prior job(s)?”, these are some of the answers that effectively end the interview and lose the candidate the job:
- My manager was / is an asshole;
- I hate my job;
- I hate the company;
- They don’t pay me enough;
- They won’t promote me;
- They cheated me out of my bonus;
- They don’t conduct business ethically;
- They promised me (raises, benefits, time-off) and never delivered.
These interview complaint-answers reveal that the candidate:
- Doesn’t have good boundaries;
- Is not mature / savvy;
- Takes no ownership / responsibility for their career path and choices;
- Is a finger-pointer rather than a problem-solver when faced with challenges;
- Is not resilient;
- Will continue to complain once you hire them (because if a job interview is like a first date, these complaints demonstrate the candidate on their best behavior);
- Is completely interested in meeting their own needs, and has no interest in meeting their future employer’s needs (which may be a chronic job-fail for them);
- May be so bitter and blotchy about their current and past woes that they have the potential to poison your employee-relations and customer-service cultures with their own toxicity.
Complaining during an interview, therefore, has the opposite impact that the candidate intends: their complaints reflect poorly on them, not their current and past employers – frankly, I’m not hiring their current / past employer(s), so bringing them into the interview doesn’t help the candidate, unless the candidate is telling me how they saved or made money for their current / past employer. Don’t get me wrong – telling the truth during an interview process is mandatory to support ongoing credibility. It’s how a candidate rises above their challenges, describing the gifts they have received from those challenges without leaving a trail of trash and blame behind them that distinguishes them from the bitter and blotchy candidates who don’t get the job.
And as much as I love social media, it has a tendency to reinforce bitter and blotchy behavior on a viral scale. Below are some choice complaint examples about employers and customers that I have read posted by others over the last year – some anonymous, and some posted on Facebook or Twitter, with the company identifying themselves while complaining publicly about their clients:
- Welcome to the perpetual Egyptian cruise, of D’NILE.
- I hate when my clients call me at 4 PM on a Friday.
- Management sucks-full of older men who have no clue.
- I don’t work with clients who ask for x.
- The sanitation is disgusting. They wouldn’t wear gloves when working with the food.
- I just got off a call with the most annoying customer.
Just like prospective employers, prospective customers will also Google you. What you post on the interwebs, praise and derision, lasts for years.
So when asked why are you interested in leaving your current company, think about how you can meet / exceed your prospective employer’s needs, with a potential answer like this:
“Your company is on the growth curve, with a great value proposition and company brand. Based on my past results and track record, I believe that I can impact your hiring process positively by building and humanizing your recruitment brand to attract top talent.”
Sounds a bit better than “because my manager is an asshole,” don’t you think?
How will you talk about solutions to meet / exceed the needs of the prospective employer / customer, to win the job / sale in business and at work?