Talking about your current employment

The bulk of your interview may be about your current role and how you perform it day to day. It is easy to be laid-back about preparing for this topic as it is something you do every day- but teasing out the key threads of what you do in your role and how you contribute to the business as a whole is an important skill to master ahead of the interview. Don’t get caught out through lack of preparation.

Alternative and related questions:

What do you like about your current job?
What do you find most satisfying about your current job?

The meaning behind the question:

The interviewer is seeking to identify what it is that you most enjoy about the work you currently do so as to help them gauge to what degree you’re likely to enjoy this new position.  It’s another way in which they can spot any potential incompatibilities between you and this new job – or indeed for them to reinforce their opinion that you are indeed a good match for the job.

Your answer:

Your favourite part of your current job might well be receiving your salary at the end of each month but that’s definitely not going to make for a good answer!

Earlier in this book, we’ve already had the question, “What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?” and my advice was for you to focus on areas of your current job which most closely match the job for which you are now applying.  My advice is similar for this question.  In choosing which aspects of your job to tell them you most enjoy, you need to try to select aspects which will lead the interviewer to believe that you will also enjoy – and therefore perform well in – this new job.

What are the most important tasks/duties/responsibilities that your current job has in common which this vacancy?  Whatever they are, that’s where you need to focus attention.

There’s no harm is starting your answer with a general statement to the effect that you enjoy most aspects of your job but you then need to go on to give some specific examples which will help to support your case for being an ideal fit for this new job.

Example:

That’s a difficult question – because there’s a lot I like about my current job.  I want to move on because I’m looking for a new and greater challenge – not because I dislike my current job.  But to tell you what I enjoy most about it, I’d say that I enjoy giving direct support to senior management in a way that really makes a difference.  The contribution I make is vital to their ability to make key financial decisions which ultimately influence the overall success of the business.  I enjoy the challenge; I enjoy the responsibility and I enjoy the methodical and precise approach which is necessary for me to deliver the information the management rely upon.

Word of warning:

Steer clear of aspects which are irrelevant to the job for which you are now applying.  They won’t help to support your case; they’ll only risk damaging it.

Alternative and related questions:

Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?
What is the best thing about your current job?

The meaning behind the question:

This is another question designed to identify what you like best about your current job so as to test your motivations in wanting to move on and to better ascertain your suitability for the role for which you are applying.  The transition from one job to the next can be a tricky time and the interviewer wants to make sure there aren’t any unexpected hurdles and that you’re not likely to have any regrets.

Your answer:

Naturally, you need to focus on a positive.  Telling the interviewer your predominant memory will be what a sadistic so-and-so your boss was is not going to come across well!  Pick a feature which shows you in a positive light and elaborate on it in such a way that it comes across as a positive selling point for you.  They’ve given you an excellent opportunity to subtly say nice things about yourself!

Example:

What I’ll remember most is the team I work with.  They’re an outstanding team and I’m proud to have been a member.  We’ve achieved an awful lot together, increasing production by over 20% in the past year and consequently winning the Team of the Year award.  There’s a great sense of cohesion and, while we all have our individual characters, we work very well together.  I really enjoy the team spirit.  Over time, the other team members have become increasingly dependent on me, as the most senior member of the team, and this is another reason why I feel the time is clearly right for me to step up to a Team Leader role.

Word of warning:

Avoid mentioning anything which isn’t going to be a feature of the job for which you’re applying.  If you do then the interviewer might wonder if you’re really making the right decision in applying for this job or, worse, that if they do give you the job that there’s a risk you might later regret it.

Alternative and related questions:

Have you been tempted to leave your current employers before?

The meaning behind the question:

This is a good question, from the interviewer’s point of view.  It helps them to probe further into your reasons for wishing to leave your current employers.  It helps them to get a better grasp on the way you manage your career.  It helps them to better understand what makes you tick.

Your answer:

It’s superficially a closed question with an obvious “Yes” or “No” answer.  But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.  For a start, you need to decide if you want to tell the truth or not!  The choice is yours.  But, whether you answer “Yes” or “No”, you should aim to support your answer with your reasoning and to justify that reasoning.  If you haven’t been tempted to leave before then why not.  If you have then why did you decide to stay.

In Chapter 2 we covered the highly popular question, “Why do you wish to leave your current position?”  You need to bear in mind your answer to this when formulating your answer to this new question.

Example:

No, it’s not the first time I’ve considered moving on.  An opportunity did previously arise via my network.  However, at the time I still felt sufficiently challenged in my role and still had plenty of things I wanted to achieve.  So I declined the offer.  Clearly, things are different now and I feel ready to embrace a new challenge.

Word of warning:

If you answered that you have indeed previously been tempted to leave but you don’t explain your reasons for deciding to stay then there’s every chance you’ll be hit with the obvious follow-up question, “Why did you decide to stay?”  Pre-empt that question by explaining your reasoning up front.

Alternative and related questions:

Is leaving your current job really the best decision?
Are you sure you want to leave your current job?

The meaning behind the question:

Another question probing your motivations in wishing to leave your current job.  The interviewer will be aiming to unearth any doubts you might have about moving on, doubts which might later transform into possible regrets.  Your answer to this question will help to tell them how serious you are about changing jobs.  Are you really committed to moving or are you just wasting their time?

Your answer:

As per the previous question, this is another one where you will need to bear in mind your answer to the top 10 question, “Why do you wish to leave your current position?”

It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you will, in some ways, be sad to move on; you’re only human.  However, you need to twist this question round so as to seize an opportunity to reiterate to the interviewer why you wish to move on and why you feel this is the right decision for you.  Focus on talking about your wanting a greater challenge and greater opportunities, wanting to diversify, advance and develop – and, if appropriate, taking a step up the career ladder.

Example:

I’ll naturally be sad to leave behind many colleagues with whom I get on extremely well.  That’s an inevitable aspect of moving to a new and different job.  But I’m mainly feeling very positive about my decision to want to move on.  In my current role, I’ve learned all that I can reasonably learn within the organisation and I’m more than ready for a new and greater challenge.  I’m very keen to achieve further professional development and this move will enable me to attain my goals.  It’s very much the right decision so I’m looking forwards to the future rather than looking back to the past.

Alternative and related questions:

What do you think of your current employer?
What is your relationship like with your current employer?

The meaning behind the question:

The interviewer is unlikely to be too interested in your current employer.  What they’re truffling for with this question is what your relationship is like with your current employer and, yet again, to better understand your motivations in wishing to leave them.

Your answer:

We’ve previously covered the question, “How would you describe your current boss?”  Don’t make the mistake of thinking this question is the same.  They’re specifically asking about your employer as a whole, not just your immediate boss.  However, my guidelines for answering the question are very similar.  Give a short but reasonably complimentary description and, most importantly, portray yourself as a valued member of staff.

Avoid any overt negativity because, ultimately, it will reflect negatively on you.  No disparaging comments; you don’t want to open up a can of worms here.  But, likewise, don’t overly sing their praises because it may just ring hollow.  After all, if they’re that great, then why do you want to leave?!  A decent compromise is to drop in a mild criticism which is simultaneously complimentary of your potential new employer.

Example:

I have no complaints.  I’m happy with the way they operate and with the way they treat me and the way they treat their staff in general.  They’re good employers.  They’ve taught me a lot; I’ve gained a lot of experience and I feel appreciated by them for the results I achieve and, generally, as a member of their team.  I do feel that they’re perhaps not as fast-moving and progressive as they could be which is probably my main reason for wishing to move on and join an organisation such as yours.

Word of warning:

I’ve seen another expert suggest you could just answer ‘Very good’ and leave it at that.  However, I’d advise against this (a) because it makes you look uncommunicative and (b) even worse it can make it look like you don’t want to give a proper answer to the question, possibly because you have something to hide.