It’s an open-ended question of many facets that should be tailored to your specific employment scenario.

The Straightforward Scenarios

You completed your internship and you’re ready for a formal position. You successfully completed your contract and you’re seeking a new assignment. You were part of a layoff, which put you back on the market. You just graduated from coding school, a STEM program, or college and like Elmer Fudd, you’re hunting wabbits, (job hunting).

Regardless of which one you fit in, each scenario clearly points reason for being in the market and can be used in direct response to the question. The next step here will be the hiring manager inquiring about your fit for the position. You got it…“You’re strengths and weaknesses!” Given that’s a focus on our next blog; we ask that stay tuned as we delve into Your Strengths and Weaknesses! But wait, don’t stop reading, there’s more to learn!

The Not So Straightforward Scenarios

You are currently employed but it’s not “Gucci” and you’ve come to hate something about your job, i.e., a tussle with your colleague, manager, or project. Maybe, you were let go! We get it, no one likes work woes and if you’re struggling to get out of bed and into the office, we applaud you for taking the initiative for finding a better job fit. If you’re down and out for being let go, kudos for strapping up those laces and marching forward.

Regardless of your scenario, the key is to never position your response as fleeing a bad opportunity or situation, but rather moving to a better one. Otherwise, the direction of this crucial interview question can go wrong, especially if you’re focusing on and blaring all the wrongs about your current/former job. Coming off as negative will certainly rule you out. Tread lightly, because hiring managers like TSA, will be inquisitive about shady baggage with a nametag for Debbie Downer! They know that employee happiness is imperative to business. Studies have shown that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees.

Okay, you get it, stay positive. Focus on the opportunity at hand and what you bring to the table, aside from your business attire and nice smile. Now what?

To Do and Not To Do

  1. Don’t get stuck in a pickle; plan on spending more thought and time composing your response ahead of time.
  2. Determine your work values and motivators by asking yourself the following:
    • Did I leave voluntarily and was it on good terms or for good reason?
    • What do I want in a company that I’m not getting currently and what does this company offer in comparison? Perhaps you’re looking for more purpose, a type of team culture, responsibilities, or certain benefits – all things to be excited about!
  3. Once you’ve formalized your work values and motivators outline your response and connect it to the opportunity. You want your delivery to be methodical for it to be received clearly.
    • “I’ve been at my current organization for about six years and I’ve hit a bit of a ceiling. I’m interested in a new challenge, in terms of role and industry. I’m in the midst of an MBA program and I’ve been involved in the hiring process and mentorship of several of our new team members. I’m excited to move into more of a Team Leadership capacity at this phase of my career.
    • Having formalized a few of your own examples will show that you know what you want and that you have taken the time to learn about the firm. Having multiple examples will give you flexibility and added options. After all, you don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony or a one-hit wonder!
  4. Practice and more practice until you can deliver it in a fluid and solid manner that communicates your motivation without red flags.

If you get anything out of this blog, you will be sure to leave Debbie Downer at home, along with her excess baggage!