How to Nail the Tricky Interview Questions


Ever been in an interview and been hit with a question that caused you tremendous anxiety – you know, the kind that has you mentally sinking in your chair just wishing you could tuck and roll out of the office doors? Well, to prevent you from experiencing such trauma again, let’s deal with those nail-biting, head-spinning questions head on.

Specifically: let’s talk about that dreaded question, “Why are you leaving your current role?”

Some people have an easy answer. Maybe your company was recently acquired, and the acquiring company had someone in your role already and you were laid off. Or maybe you just moved cities! But for the 99% of us who didn’t get laid off for non-performance-based reasons and haven’t recently moved to a new city, let’s talk about a tactful way to respond to this weighted question.

Rewind: Why do employers even ask this question? Spoiler alert: It’s kind of a trick. The goal in asking this question is for the employer to suss out whether you’re just going to leave their company for the same reason you left your previous company. Every time a company hires someone, they are making an investment. As with all investments, they want something long-term that will continually provide a return. Ultimately, this question unveils more about a person and their motivations than any other question.  

Now, let’s walk through the do’s and don’ts of answering this curve ball.

The bad responses, aka what NOT to say:

**Note: Below are real-life answers I have received from candidates. I wish I were being dramatic, but I’m not.

Wrong Answer #1: “I’ve been at my job for three months and there’s just no opportunity for growth.”  

Wrong Answer #2: “My manager and I really don’t get along. It’s been a long, strenuous relationship that I’m ready to get out of.”  

Wrong Answer #3: “Well, you know, my kid is going to college and my husband and I just got divorced, so I need to make more money. I’ve asked my current boss for a raise because of my situation and he just won’t give it to me. On top of that, the culture of this place is just awful. I don’t even want to go to work when I get up in the morning… they aren’t paying me nearly enough for the sh*t I put up with.”

Yes, these may all be valid reasons for looking for a new job… but your potential employer doesn’t want to hear that.  

In fact, if you say any of the above, I can promise you that unless you absolutely ace the rest of the interview, you’ve probably talked yourself out of a job.  

Now for the good responses - aka what you SHOULD say:

Right Answer #1: “While I notice I have only been in my current position for three months, I am really looking for a long-term fit. Unfortunately, my current role isn’t the place for me as the job that I am currently doing is much different than the job that I had interviewed for. I’m grateful for the experience, but believe this role is much more up the alley of what I hope to do.”

Right Answer #2: “I am so appreciative of the time in my current position and I have learned so much. However, due to recent changes in our org, I am being proactive in my search. I want to ensure that I find the right place, not just any place. This role really seems like it could offer me what I am looking for in a place to stay for the long-term.”

Right Answer #3: “The job market is hotter than it’s ever been before. I was so curious to see what was out there, as soon as I stumbled upon this role, I had to apply. I really want to work for a company whose mission I can get behind, and I really believe in what you all are doing!”

There’s no step-by-step formula of answering this question that guarantees you get the job. However, I urge you to be honest with your recruiter and brainstorm together on the best ways to approach this question and any others stumping you. Every employer is different, so be sure to tailor your answers to the role and company you’re interviewing for. Remember, your recruiter is your sounding board, your coach and your advocate – utilize them!!


-Your Recruiting Resource

Written by: Hayley Morrison

Posted on

September 17, 2019


Job Search Advice