Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Recently, I was interviewing an individual for a role. My first question was “why you for the role?” As I listened to the response and watched the body language, I noticed a spark when the interviewee highlighted his accomplishments, progress, and impacts. It was but natural for me think if everything is so good — Why do you want to change jobs?
Bang came a reply — I have discovered that my passion is towards people and I love people-related roles and looking to move into the domain. He continued to meander. I found an opportune time to pause him and said I would like to understand his response a bit better and requested him to explain in plain words.
Later in the day, I started playing the question back to myself and wondered how would I answer it?
The response is very situational but below are some tips:
Be Authentic — The rule is very simple — If you are trying too hard to say something without actually trying to say it — chances are you are beating around the bush and not being authentic. It is perfectly acceptable to bring a sense of vulnerability and explain in a straight forward way. In his case, it was him recognizing Finance was not his chosen role, he had spoken to several people leaders in the company to understand what it entailed, and it motivated him. He figured it was better for him to make a switch now, learn the traits and grow.
Lead with your personal purpose — Most achievers lead and live with purpose. If you are not switching roles and are in the same domain then this is a good tactic. Leading with your personal purpose and where you want to be automatically positions you as an aspirer and an achiever.
Are you running towards vs. running away? — Follow up the personal purpose statement with how the role you are interviewing will get you further towards that goal and purpose. As you respond, state how the current role will help you get forward. Avoid stating things like how your current role is limiting, delaying, or is an impediment for your promotion. Most companies would appreciate a candidate who is running towards an opportunity then running away from a problem.
Don’t be a negative nelly — Choose your words carefully. Being vulnerable, demonstrating candor needs to be balanced with professionalism. Remember, you still need to be at your best. Don’t convert your interview into a therapy session or pass your negative energy to your interviewer. It isn’t a counseling session and you are not in a bar venting/bashing everything that isn’t right. Your conversation should be about everything your career could be vs. everything that it isn’t.
Let the interviewer know you are up for the current role — After you state it, close the conversation with how you are ready for the current role. If it is a “promotion” then just state your readiness, if it is a “horizontal” move then state your willingness to learn and grow, and if it is a “career change” then state how it will help you get closer to your role.
In this particular case, once we crossed that moment of awkwardness, the interviewee came across compelling in his passion to do the role. He was a bit weak on purpose and we both agreed that at an early stage of the career, the interviewee was just discovering the purpose. At the end of it, he was hired and continues to thrive in his role!