Interview Tips: Putting Yourself in the Best Light

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
You’ve finally done it. You’ve landed that interview with one of your coveted companies, for a job that’s just what you’re looking for. Then it happens: that question you’ve been dreading.

“Tell us why you’re looking for a new job.”

You’ve thought hard about this one. You know why you’re looking, but that reason might not sound so great to a prospective employer. "I wanted more money." "I didn’t get along with my boss." “I got fired and need a job.” These responses represent the three most common reasons for job hunting, but the truth is, they all carry negative connotations to employers.

So how do you put yourself in the best light?

The secret is in telling the truth while using only positive information about yourself. Let’s take a look at those three reasons for job hunting, and how to overcome their negative associations.

1.  “I got fired.” Similar to this is "I got laid off," or ‘the company had cutbacks.’ Unfortunately, in today’s work environment, people do get let go from jobs, even if they’ve been performing well. If your company has been cutting back on employees, you can simply mention that fact. Or perhaps your job was outsourced. Again, be honest. “Although I received nothing but exemplary performance reports, management outsourced my position to cut salary costs.” Having a good reference with your previous employer will be a big help here. If you were fired or let go, you might want to say something like “I made significant contributions at my last job, but a recent difference in philosophies led to management deciding to let me go to pursue other opportunities.”

Of course, if you were fired for insubordination, performance, or any other type of problem, your best bet might be to just say, “Things didn’t work out for me there, and I’m hoping to start fresh with a company where my skills and ideas are a better fit.”

2.  “I didn’t get along with my boss.” Perhaps you and your manager clashed. You might try saying, “Regrettably, management and I differed on how to best focus on priorities. However, I’ve done some research on your company, and I believe our business philosophies would be much more in sync.”

3.  “I want more money.” Everyone does; it’s why we change jobs. But employers don’t want to spend money. Instead, try this: “I’d advanced as far as possible with the company, and I want to obtain a position where I can continue to grow and take on new responsibilities and challenges, while at the same time contributing to my employer’s growth and success.”

As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is as true in interviews as anywhere else, so before you walk through those doors make sure you’re prepared to put your background in the best light possible. Encourage the interviewer to develop a positive impression of you right away. You won’t have a second chance.