There are plenty of reasons to look for a new firm. Location, salary and work-life balance are common and are fairly easy reasons to explain during an interview. However, bullying, office culture and personality clashes are much harder and should be discussed with more caution. Below I look at some ways to discuss sensitive issues without sounding too negative.

The shock factor – The interviewer asks, “Why are you leaving your current firm?”. It can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t say at this point. What is oversharing? What is being too vague? The first thing to consider is that you are not trying to shock your interviewer. If there is a rather dramatic reason you are leaving, consider stripping the reason back and making it simpler.

2 degrees of separation – The New Zealand job market is small and many of the firm’s directors know each other. They will have often studied or worked with each other earlier in their careers. Whilst what you’re saying about them may indeed be correct, throwing what could potentially be a friend under the bus never looks good. It’s always best to assume your interviewer knows the director of your current firm.

Sound believable – Most people have exaggerated a story at some point in their life. This isn’t the time for it. Keep your reason simple and more importantly believable. If your interviewer doesn’t believe the reason you’re leaving your current role, this could be enough for them not to consider you.

Stability – If your firm is struggling, there is nothing wrong with wanting security for your family. Make sure you are careful with what you disclose though. Your ‘potential’ next employer will be curious as to how much you divulge, as one day you may be doing the same thing about them. Make sure to keep confidential information confidential.

Progression – Lack of progression in your current firm is a common reason to move. It may be that there are people ahead of you in the line to the managerial throne. There is nothing wrong with being motivated by progression, however, progression has to be earnt. If you are a senior looking for a management role, explain the steps you have taken to get there, the additional responsibilities you currently have that make you eligible to apply for the managerial role.

Problem child – If you come to an interview with a list the length of your arm as to why you would like to leave a firm, doubts may start to creep into your interviewers head. The last thing they want to do is hire somebody who is going to upset their current office dynamic. You can have all the experience and qualifications in the world, but if you cause more problems than you do good, that’s an issue. Consider picking one strong reason rather than ten.

So what should you do? – In each of my points above, I’ve essentially advised you to downplay the reasons for leaving your current position. This is because we don’t want to dwell on the negatives as it can come across as though you’re the negative one. You want to spend your interview talking about your experience and why you would be a good fit for their position. Spend time explaining what it is you are looking for, how you are not getting it in your current firm and how you feel the firm you are interviewing at will be able to provide it. If you are going to talk about a bad experience at your current firm, keep it broad and never mention names.

Where do I come into this process? – Using a recruiter provides a platform to pass on these messages whilst not necessarily saying them yourself, or at least not in great detail. In most cases, a recruiter will have a relationship with the director of the firm you are interviewing at and, therefore, some trust. Having a third party explain some of the issues you’re facing and some of your reasoning pre-interview allows you to focus on the positives during the interview.

If you want any advice on the above, get in touch for a confidential conversation.

Ben Holloway | P 03 244 0258 | E bholloway@tylerwren.co.nz