Top interview questions to prepare for when you apply for a job

Whether you hear it’s an “employer’s market” or “job seeker’s market,” looking for a job is tough. After you find one that works for you, the application seems daunting. And then, if you get called for an interview, you get asked a whole bunch of questions that you never thought people would ask. But it’s ok – most of the top interview questions are ones you can prepare for ahead of time. And studies show that a little bit of preparation helps you get “PEI” (positive, interested, and engaged) in the interview, which increases your chances of getting the job.

If you’ve got an interview coming up, or you want to apply for a new job, keep reading. We’ve tallied up the top interview questions you should prepare for when applying for a new job. 

Why are you leaving your previous job?

A potential employer may want to know why you left your old job

When you’re applying for a job, you’re almost guaranteed doing it to leave a different job. There could be many reasons why you’re leaving, but that’s usually the case. Maybe you hated your old job and want to get out. Or maybe this new job is the perfect next step for you. Maybe it’s just about the money (which is totally fine). If you’re applying for your first job ever, this question may still come up in an interview. 

What the question REALLY means: When a recruiter asks you this question, they are trying to find any red flags. If you have a job and are already making money, why would you want to leave? There are many legitimate reasons, but also a few that the recruiter might be concerned about.

For example, if you were asked to leave your current job for breaking the company’s code of conduct, the recruiter would be concerned about hiring you. They may also be looking to weed out candidates who they don’t think match the company’s core values. For example, if you are leaving your current job because you hate your boss giving you feedback, you may not fit at a company that has a culture of giving feedback. 

How to prepare for this question: Start by being very honest with yourself – why are you leaving? Whatever it is – money, friends, better work, better hours, better life, anything – be honest with yourself. It could be multiple reasons as well. Write them all down. The more honest you are with yourself in this step, the better. Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to show the real list to the recruiter. 

Once you know the real reasons why you’re leaving, frame the problem in a productive way. For example, if you want to leave your current job because your boss is a horrible person, that can be framed as you not feeling like your boss could support your career. It’s true – if your boss is horrible then they likely won’t support you – but you don’t have to say that you hated your old boss. This way you can be honest with the recruiter without setting off any red flags. 

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