Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: How to answer the interview question, 'Why are you leaving your current job?'

If you're on the hunt for your next job, you'd better be prepared to talk about why you're trying to leave your current one.

When a hiring manager asks, "Why are you leaving your current job?," you might be tempted to respond honestly with something like, "I don't like my boss," or, "I'm not getting paid enough."

But that type of negative response will almost certainty ruin your chances of landing the new opportunity, according to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.

So how do you respond positively without being dishonest?

"Look, this question can be awkward. I get it," Welch tells CNBC Make It. "But the antidote is to avoid ruminating on your unmet wants or needs, and to focus instead on the opportunity ahead."

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Here's how to strike the best possible tone:

1. Don't give a fake response

Hiring managers are generally pretty good at sensing when an applicant is being dishonest.

"Don't make up a story," Welch says. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Lying is never good."

Don't avoid answering the question, either — that will make you look untrustworthy.

2. Avoid looking like a boss hater

You may have legitimate reasons to be dissatisfied with your current manager, role or compensation, but in order to move forward in your career, you need to move on personally, too.

"If you're hurt or bitter, let it go," Welch says, "before the interview."

"Your interviewer is trying to assess if you're the problem, not the job," Welch says. "They're looking for signs you're a boss hater, or a job hopper, or in my house, what we call a 'whining, moaning complainer.'"

You want to come across as a mature and positive person, not someone who holds onto grudges or creates problems.

3. Show you're forward thinking

Instead of lying or speaking negatively about your current situation, give a response that shows you're forward looking.

"Make your answer about the future," Welch says.

"Turn the conversation towards why you want to join the new company," she adds. "Explain why this job is so right for your skills, your values and your career goals."

You should acknowledge that you're currently dissatisfied, but in a way that's broad and succinct.

Highlighting "slow growth" or "lack of opportunity" at your current company is a good way to summarize what you're feeling, Welch says. And after you explain why you're currently unhappy, move on.

"After your quick and courteous explanation, quickly pivot to what excites you about the new company's values, mission and culture," Welch says. "Talk about its people and its products."

This type of response will show the hiring manager that you're both honest and positive.

"Let them know you aren't only about 'you' and 'your,'" Welch says. "You're about 'them' and 'us.'"

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker.

Video by Richard Washington

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