This question very often comes up in an interview setting—and always makes you a little nervous. It feels a bit like a trap. You want to answer honestly and say: “Because I need to eat” or “Because if I stay at my current job another five minutes I’ll go crazy.” But you’ll never get the job without finessing this moment as you must finesse the others in an interview.
Here 5 strategies for how to answer.
1. Play to your strengths.
Find a way to pivot in your answer back to what you’re there to sell: yourself. Frame it in terms of your long-term career goals in such a way that allows you to draw emphasis to your particular skills and expertise.
2. Make it about your hopes for the future.
Make your answer compelling. Don’t let it just be about a paycheck. Emphasize your passion, your desire for challenges and growth. And be focused on the future, rather than dwelling in your past.
3. Also make it about them.
No matter what, try wrapping up your answer in such a way that shows your respect/admiration for the company. If you’re just a little bit obsessed with the company, that’s a great way to show your enthusiasm as well. And that you’ve done your homework!
4. Be honest, but stay positive.
If you’re looking because your current job just isn’t cutting it, find a way to frame that in a positive new light. Try focusing on your desire for new challenges, to learn or do more, rather than being held back by a crappy job.
5. Turn the table.
This only works if you have a good read on your interviewer. But if you can keep your tone professional-but-casual and pivot back to ask your interviewer whether he or she might have made a similar transition during the course of their career, you could be opening the door to a very candid and easy conversation that might just frame you in the best light to get the job.
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