By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

It’s true that the candidate you’re interviewing is looking for something different/better than what she has. But, if you simply ask “why do you want to leave?” you miss an opportunity to get the deeper truth that helps you make a smarter hiring decision.

It’s rare that your candidate has made a conscious decision to leave her current employer. It happens, but it’s rare. As a result, a question like “why do you want to leave?” probably won’t produce a useful answer. Try incorporating these questions into your interview:

  • What do you do now as part of your job that you’d like to do less of? What would you like to do that you’re not getting to do? Your candidate’s answers will tell you whether your opportunity can fix either of these problems and, if so, how to make that point when you get to the offer stage.
  • What is the next rung on the career ladder where you are, and what have you been told about what you have to do to get there? Your candidate’s answers should reveal whether career advancement is a serious focus. You will be able to evaluate the reasonableness of those expectations and, therefore, how your candidate will advance—or not—in your practice.
  • If you left the practice where you work, what would you miss the most? Your candidate’s answers (and the length of the list) will tell you a lot about how you have to position your opportunity if you want to attract the candidate.
  • What do you think your employer will say when you announce you’ve accepted another offer? It’s never too early to ask a question like this. Your candidate’s answer (Definitive? Or, fuzzy?) can provide insight into whether you’re talking with a serious candidate or a “tire-kicker.” The answer can also be a clue that you should be cautious about a counter-offer.

It’s easy to reach for a short-hand question like “Why do you want to leave?” However, there are other and better ways to understand and leverage candidate motivation.

John Borrowman