Interviewing? Avoid These Common Mistakes Describing your Current Job
“Tell me about your current role and why you’re looking to move on.”
It’s an unavoidable interview question, and a simple one that should be easy to get past—but it can easily trip you up if you haven’t thought through how you’re going to address it. In preparing your answer to the inevitable question about your current job, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.
If you’re interviewing for new roles, there’s a good chance you’re ready for a change —or that you’ve at least identified some areas for improvement that have pushed you to look for other opportunities. While it’s certainly OK (and often helpful!) to discuss these frustrations with your friends and family, it’s important not to let this dissatisfaction shine through in interviews.
To begin with, complaining about your current situation—from bad mouthing a colleague to expressing discontent with the management team—tends to come off as unprofessional. Think about it like this: If your interviewer were to hire you, chances are you’d eventually leave that company as well, and they wouldn’t want you to then go complaining about them to your next employer.
Still further, if it ever did get back to your current employer, bad mouthing them in an interview could burn bridges you may have worked hard to build and maintain after leaving the company.
Do: Explain why your current company can’t support your goals
Even if you are unhappy in your current role, focus on discussing how you’re looking to grow. Let’s say, for example, that you’re leaving the company because you feel stuck in terms of upward mobility. Rather than complaining about the organizational structure or unfair treatment you feel you’ve received, speak to the opportunity you’re interviewing for and how it can help you gain new skills, manage a team, or fulfil another goal that you wouldn’t be able to in your current job.
It can be tempting—particularly for those who come from a complex industry—to use lots of jargon, which may make you sound more intelligent in certain circles but will likely just frustrate your interviewer. The excessive use of jargon can make it seem like you’re trying to compensate for a lack of knowledge elsewhere—or worse, leave your interviewer feeling like they don’t actually understand which skills you can bring to the team.
Do: Gauge your audience
In certain contexts, it does make sense to use a bit of jargon, but it’s your job to judge whether or not your interviewer knows it in the first place—as well as whether or not they’ll be appreciative of you using it. Err on the side of caution; if you’re not sure about a specific term, for example, ask for their level of understanding before diving in. It’s important to be on the same page as your interviewer, and being cautious by asking questions can also help to demonstrate soft skills related to team-building and developing shared understanding.
Don’t: Undervalue your contributions
When you’ve got one foot out the door, it can be easy to forget the importance of what you’ve done at your soon-to-be ex-company—but don’t do yourself a disservice by letting this impact your interview. It’s in your best interest to represent your contributions in the best light possible, regardless of how excited you are to leave for a new role, so don’t forget about the hard work that’s gotten you to where you are. Similarly, work experience from years past can be easily glossed over, but it might be important to highlight certain pieces of your previous roles if they’re relevant to the role you’re trying to land.
Do: Speak with humility about your accomplishments
Before interviewing, glance over your CV (which should already include the key contributions at each company) to remind yourself of what you did—and consider which experiences your interviewer might appreciate a deeper dive into. Remember, an interview is essentially a sales process, so it’s your responsibility to select the most relevant examples of how you’ll add value to—and fit culturally with—the team.