The One Question You Must Ask Every Candidate

Why do you want to leave your job?

That question may be a very common one to ask for most hiring managers, but it’s loaded with the opportunity to gather some great information that many times gets overlooked in an interview.

Why people leave a job is varied, but it can have a dramatic impact on whether or not they meet your expectations if you hire them. Therefore, you need a context to help guide your interview and achieve your goal:

You’re looking for causality.

Simply put, you need to know if your candidate is a good performer leaving for legitimate reasons or if they’re a mediocre employee who was fired because of poor performance. Once you get the answer to this one important question, then drill down and get them to explain the circumstances surrounding their decision to leave. Here are some great follow-up questions to ask:

  • What did you like best about your boss?
  • What were some of the challenges working with your boss?
  • What did the company do or not do that’s motivating you to leave?
  • What obstacles, if any, did the company fail to remove to help you be successful?
  • What would have been the ideal work environment for you to stay?
  • How did you go about communicating your concerns?
  • What was their response?
  • What was the deciding moment for you to seek employment elsewhere?

Ideal Profile for Hiring Outside Sales Reps

After going through this series of questions, ask yourself: Does my candidate lay out a good case for why they are leaving?

In many cases it has less to do with the actions of their boss or the policies of their company and more to do with issues such as: a spouse getting a new job in a different city, the desire to move closer to family, layoffs, etc.

In addition, each of these questions focuses your candidate on providing you with feedback on their likes and dislikes – how they like to managed, the type of culture they prefer, etc. You’ll learn a lot about why they left and how to create the right conditions for them to be successful if you choose to hire them.

When people go through job transitions, it can affect their self-worth, self-image and motivation. It’s imperative to distinguish between candidates that are highly capable and temporarily struggling with job decisions versus candidates who aren’t wired for the job at your company. An in-depth assessment can help you discern the difference between these two types of candidates.