Have You Ever Held a Position That Wasn't Right for You

This is one of those tough interview questions and, you know, it’s easy to fall into a trap and appear like an imbecile. It’s easy to say, “no, no, all the jobs that have been fine.” It begs the question, “Why are you sitting in my office,” and “what’s wrong?”

You see, it’s a variation on the “why are you looking for a job question,” and you’re there because something isn’t going right for you with your current organization.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you now have an invitation to dump on your boss, to dump on your coworkers, anything along those lines. What it is is an invitation to talk about yourself, you in relationship with the job, your organization, and what the impact is on you more sincerely.

Let me give you an example.

So, if you said, “No, nothing’s wrong,” they’re going into “so, what are you here for?” “I’m not making enough money.” “Ah! There it is.” But here’s how you can do it and sound sincere.

You pause for a second. Again, I’m performing in the theater of interviewing. There’s a performance art to this. You are an actress or an actor on the stage, performing. Don’t want to do it? Grow up! I’m going to tell you that point-blank. You have to grow up because it’s part of persuasiveness and just like you are sold to in all sorts of advertising by all sorts of dancing happy people who are there selling you that toilet paper in some stupid skit, I’m asking you to do much the same thing.

The way to answer this is this “go sincere on them.” The way you do that is you break eye contact for a moment and start to look down because in neuro-linguistic programming we associate that with a feeling state. So you look down for a moment and then you look back into their eyes, you slow your speech down just a little bit.

Then you say, “You know, I don’t want to appear as though. I’m being critical of my organization because they’ve generally been very good to me. However, I’ve been in the same kind of a role now for several years, working with the same people, doing the same stuff in the same way. For me, having done this for a while, I want to learn something new and do something a little bit different. I also have the idea that they see me in my current role because I do it extremely well but they will just be content if I stayed here and did the same thing and took this off their plate of worries and I’ll never advance. So, I’m looking for an organization that sees my upside and doesn’t just value what I can do for them today, that can see me for where I can go in the future.”

So what you’ve done is answer the “why are you looking for a job” question in a slightly different way, answering it directly, probably give them an honest answer if follow my format here because there is a reason you’re there and you probably are bored, it isn’t probably about the money.

Money is a factor but you can’t focus on the money. You can joke at the end, “Hey look, obviously, I’d like to make more money.” and  you may get a chuckle out of them or they may say, “you know the position we have only goes to this level,” at which point you have a choice and you should have known that walking in the door . . . but that’s a different part of our conversation.”

So, the idea here is, again, to just pause for a second, break eye contact, look down, speak softly and a little bit more slowly, and then answer the question as I suggested.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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