Why I Asked You About Your Last Job

Why Did You Leave?

Why I asked you about your last job

When we talk for the first time, I’m keen to make sure I really understand how I can help you.

Some of the questions I ask may not make sense at first, but bear with me and I’ll tell you why I ask them.

“What is your current job and what does it involve?”

For most people the CV is supposed to answer this question.

In fact sometimes when I ask a candidate “tell me about the job you’re doing at the moment” the reaction can be “well haven’t you read my CV?”

To a large degree I understand that response.

Most of the time I have read the CV, but I haven’t studied it.

I’ve seen enough to know that you’re worth talking to and now…I want to talk to you.

Maybe not everything is covered.

You’ll probably tell me more than is contained in your CV.

I’ll ask you questions and you’ll give me more information. And then I’ll ask you more questions and, well you get the idea…..

You’ll tell me what you like and what you don’t like.

If I’m going to find the right role for you, I need to know why you want to leave this one.

In my experience people don’t often leave a job because they “fancy a change” or even just for the money.

There is generally an underlying reason.

If it wasn’t your idea to leave I’m naturally curious about the circumstances surrounding that.

Were you made redundant as a result of cutbacks? Did you kidnap the MDs wife and set fire to the building? You may laugh, but I’m expected to know if you’re an axe wielding homicidal maniac hell bent on finding your next victim, (or a highly mobile professional ready for your next challenge).

You may in your explanation give me so much more information, often making you suitable for other roles I’ve had, and companies I’ve dealt with.

You’ll tell me about the company.

I probably know a bit about them, but not as much as you do.

What you tell me will also help me know if the environment you’re in, is one you enjoy.

If I ever work with that company, and consider placing someone else there, it will help me work out if that’s the right environment for them.

So when you’re asked about your current role, I know it can be frustrating, especially if it’s not the first time of answering it, but for my part – I want to make sure I use this opportunity to find the best company for you.

As a bonus I’ll also get an idea, how you’ll answer that question if/when I get you to interview stage.

I’ll give you a real life example of how this helped me.

I spoke to an Electrical Engineer that was ex-military (ex RAF from memory).

He’d recently started a job as a Field Service Engineer, for a Generator company.

When I asked him about the job he was doing he went into detail about it.

We talked in depth about the High Voltage testing he did, the Voltages he tested up to, the Test equipment he used.

Everything he said and the qualifications he had talked about passing, made me confident he knew about his subject.

When I asked him about the downsides of his current role, while he was relatively happy with the work content, he was unhappy with the lack of structure and career prospects, and that the company wouldn’t invest in training for him when there was a commercial benefit to them doing so.

He said that his manager wasn’t consistent, and that he had no reason to believe there was a career path available to him.

He was frustrated that the company didn’t seem to have a vision or a plan going forward, every day was reacting and fire fighting, and there was no reason he could see this would change.

I asked him if he’d spoken to his manager about this, he said he had and this was where the inconsistency came in.

His manager had talked about resolving these issues, but not only did he not resolve them, but often made decisions that made things worse.

The role I had in mind for him was a high voltage testing role, so the conversation about his test experience that wasn’t covered in his CV, gave me extra information that not only helped me believe he had the right technical experience, but I could also hear that he enjoyed that part of the job.

The company I was recruiting for was a bigger organisation. They had structure, processes, and procedures in spades. They invested in their staff to improve their skills to the benefit of the business. They also had a career path that went right to the top. I was confident that this would be the place for him, and this was an opinion I passed onto the hiring manager.

Long story short he was interviewed, offered, and he started, and is still there now.

Last time I heard from him he said the job was going well and he was happy there.

Thoughts or comments about this?

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