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Past employer interview questions and how to answer them

27 Oct 2014

Interview traps can be hard to spot but we’d be amazed if even in the shortest of careers you hadn’t come across this ubiquitous interview hurdle: “Why do you want to leave your present employer?”

Whatever your true feelings about the company you are wanting to exit, under no circumstances should you wander in to the realms of rant, however tempting it may be.  As a professional communicator charged with upholding corporate reputations, how you regard a current employer at interview will inform your potential future employers about what you may say about them – and their clients.

Do

  • Stress the positives of the company (there must have been a reason you joined them in the first place) and why they were a good company to work for
  • Tell them about any training or work-related experience you’ve gained
  • When addressing the reasons why you want to move on, make them skills, ambition and values related, perhaps stressing that you are looking for a new challenge and what that means to you.  Remember to relate what you are saying to the role and the company you are applying for, matching the advertised job description with the skills that you can provide.
  • Take advantage of pre-interview coaching, a service that we provide to our candidates

Don’t

  • Be tempted to rant about internal (and confidential) politics. The interviewer will gauge your discretion on behalf of the company / agency and its clients.
  • Mention personality clashes – the interviewer may see YOU as the agent provocateur
  • Use salary increases as the sole reason you want to move – this will not be viewed as sufficient motivation

It’s a rule of thumb that when it comes to being asked about present employers that, “If you can’t think of anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.” For more interview tips make sure you're signed up to our newsletter.

The Works specialises in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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