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Job interviews: talking about your motivations and reasons for leaving

Updated: Apr 27

Magandang umaga GOD's answer to a prayer! I greet you in the name of JESUS and hope that you and yours are doing well. The news is good, but don't let up. Pray in tongues, don't stop. Your intercessions are fighter planes: interceptors, fighters, and bombers for the Kingdom.

A. Why recruiters ask these questions.

C. Talking about your motivations (tips and pitfalls to avoid)

D. Talking about reasons for leaving (tips and pitfalls to avoid)

" If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask GOD, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (James 1:5, NIV)

A. Why recruiters ask these questions.

The question of motivations or reasons for leaving can be asked in different ways :

  • What piqued your interest in this offer?

  • Why are you interested in this offer?

  • Why did you apply for this job?

  • What motivates you to apply to us?

  • Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this vacancy?

  • Why do you want to leave your current employer?

  • Why are you looking for a new job/opportunity?

  • Why are you listening to the market?

  • Why did you leave your previous job?

You need to be able to answer these questions clearly, concisely, and coherently. All this while respecting the professional secrecy, confidentiality (discretion), and non-competition clauses to which you are legally bound.

Recruiters ask these questions to find out about your motivations and long-term vision. Are you really looking for a job? Do you really know what you want? Do you have a career plan, or are you just looking for a better salary? Secondly, recruiters ask this question to assess your communication, emotional intelligence, and relational intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, control, and express your emotions in a genuine and caring way while distinguishing those of others. Relational intelligence is the ability to establish healthy, constructive relationships with others. It's also the ability to adapt one's communication style to one's interlocutor(s). Relational intelligence implies taking responsibility, getting away from self-victimization, and not expecting from others what they cannot give. There's a difference between talking about a problem to solve it, stating a fact to analyze it objectively, spending your time talking about how bad you feel, and spending your time complaining that people are too much this or that. I'm not saying pretend, pretend that your manager and colleagues are something they're not. I'm saying that you have to :

  • Show maturity in your posture: talk about your motivations, and the reasons for your departure, not the people. It's not up to the recruiter to sort out your problems with your previous or current employer.

  • Wisdom in your words: speak respectfully, and respect confidentiality clauses.

  • Speak with discernment: the recruiter is not your mediator, your confidant, or your friend. His objective is to find out whether you can meet the requirements of the position in terms of your knowledge, skills, experience, interpersonal skills, availability, communication skills, and ability to handle conflict or pressure.

  • Refrain from sinning: Don't lie or slander (telling lies, asserting, or accusing without proof), and don't slander (talking about proven facts with the sole aim of cursing, harming, smearing, or taking revenge).

B. Talking about your motivations (tips and pitfalls to avoid)

It's important to have an interest in the company or its sector of activity. However, recruiters evaluate your skills, experience, and interpersonal skills before your motivations. It's on the basis of your skills and experience that you've been contacted by a headhunter or invited to an interview. So talk about the position before you talk about the company or even its sector of activity. Not all companies are famous, and some have a high turnover. So it's sometimes better to put your motivations for the company's sector of activity before any interest in the company or NGO.

I think listing your motivations in three points, a maximum of four, is more than enough. You can even limit yourself to two if you prefer.

  • Missions / Position: Specifically, what missions are you most interested in? What do you like about the job? How would your experience, qualities, and training be an advantage for this position? Is this position in line with your career plans? Will you be able to work autonomously in this position?

  • The company: in your personal opinion, what's special about this company or association? What makes it different from others? What do you think of its slogan, values, culture, services, products, and reputation?

  • Business sector: Are you interested in this business sector? How is this sector faring? What are its current challenges? Is it traditional, innovative, or highly competitive?

  • Other reasons: working hours, geographical location, career change, specific skills to acquire or develop, etc.

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Talk about your interest in the position without relating it to your skills and experience. As I wrote in a previous article, the objective is to convince, not to seduce. Even less to attract pity. Even if it's your dream company, keep it professional.

  • Be vague or lack conciseness. Be precise and concise. If recruiters need more explanation, they'll ask for it. One trick, if you're a high-potential thinker and you think in tree structures, is to record yourself. Record yourself once as if you were sending an audio message via WhatsApp. Then listen to yourself.

  • Not being enthusiastic or speaking in a monotone. Lack of dynamism in vocal timbre, speaking as if you are reciting a text.

  • Exaggerate your skills: having diplomas, good experience, recommendations, and self-confidence are no excuse for being pretentious and telling lies.

  • Exagérer ses compétences : avoir des diplômes, une bonne expérience, des recommandations et confiance en soi, ne sont pas des excuses pour être prétentieux et dire les mensonges.

    • When a junior profile pretends to be an expert, there's a problem. The recruiter will listen politely, but he won't hire him. His attitude shows that he's unreliable. Some recruiters will think he's taking people for fools.

    • When an expert thinks that being an expert is enough to be a good manager, he doesn't understand what a team is. The company already exists without you, it can clearly function without you.

C. Talking about reasons for leaving (tips and pitfalls to avoid)

There are many reasons for leaving:

  • Toxic environment, harassment, poor remuneration, lack of recognition, managerial disagreement.

  • Need for new challenges, autonomy, and conflict of interest.

  • Search for meaning at work, professional reconversion.

  • Search for a balance between personal and professional life, relocation, family constraints, and state of health.

  • Company relocation, redundancy, redundancy plan, bankruptcy.

  • Uncertainty about the future of the company or NGO.

  • Personal project.

I think giving one or two reasons is enough. Recruiters are just recruiters. They're not your friends, lawyers, intercessors, or psychologists. Be sincere, coherent, concise, and precise. If recruiters want more explanation, they'll ask for it. Explain the reasons without giving details, and above all tell them what you've learned from these experiences.

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Lying: If you've been dismissed for misconduct, divulging professional secrets, endangering colleagues, or behaving inappropriately, don't hide it. The recruiter should hear it from you, not after finding out about you.

  • Denigrate your employer or former employers. You can tell the truth without denigrating. Talk about the facts, not your feelings. Recruiters are neither judges nor psychologists. Their job is neither to judge your employer nor to do you justice. There are qualified organizations for that. What interests them is not how your employer is or was, but why you left, what lessons you learned, and whether you're ready for a new job.

  • Be vague or lack conciseness. Be precise and concise. If recruiters need more explanation, they'll ask for it.

  • Not looking the recruiters in the face. If you don't look the recruiters in the face when you answer this question, you give them the impression that you're lying, don't take responsibility for what you say, and are unsure whether you want or need to leave your job. It'll pass for some if you're a junior profile, but beyond that, very unlikely. I'm well aware that looking elders or older people in the face for a long time is frowned upon in many cultures, especially in Asia and Africa, starting with my own country, Cameroon. But never mind, when answering this question, look your recruiter in the eye. You're not begging or pleading. And you might as well let him know from the outset that you won't accept inappropriate behavior.

🙂 I trust this article will help you prepare for your job interviews. See you soon and may GOD bless you!

** Magandang umaga = Good morning in Tagalog (Philippines)


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