When you see this question, it’s usually because the interviewer wants to find out what kind of move you’re making in your career. The answer will reveal whether you are trying to job hunt for a promotion, make a lateral move, or if you’re stepping down from the responsibilities of your last job, and it can determine many of the follow-up questions you see during the rest of the process. The only right answer is the right answer, and selling your move as the right choice is the best way to approach this question.
Points to Emphasize
When approaching this question, make sure that you keep the following key points in mind.
- The interviewer still wants to know how your past experience fits the job you’re applying for, so tie the two together by highlighting compatible skills.
- Discuss the component responsibilities of the position in a way that highlights the core functions of the job.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss the ways the position changed during your tenure, especially if you made improvements or took on extra responsibilities.
- If you are interviewing for a position with less responsibilities than your former job, focus on how prepared you are to step into the new one.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
There are a couple of ways to get caught up in this question, so make sure you sidestep these potential problem areas.
- Don’t tackle the particulars of your move. The interviewer will ask follow-up questions if they want more detail, and you want to focus on the job you want to obtain.
- Avoid highlighting tasks and chores, and instead focus on the main responsibilities. Every job has some aspect of menial work. Dwelling on it is not a good sign.
- Don’t minimize your own accomplishments. Many people tend to downplay their duties because they don’t want to brag.
- Make sure you also stay away from over-selling. Once you’ve established that you took charge, keep moving forward so you don’t get repetitive.
Here’s an example of one way you can handle the question.
In my last position, I was responsible for coordinating the paperwork that documented our team’s process time for each new job. That meant ensuring everything was filed correctly and on time, and also following up with team members to check their documented work times in case they forgot to sign out of a job. The detail-oriented work was a good fit for me, but what I really liked was the way it built my communication skills.
Give them a take-away that makes you look more attractive and you’ve done your job.