I’ve interviewed hundreds of people as a recruiter, and one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What are you looking for in your next position?”
There are a couple of specific reasons your interviewer will ask this question, and a few big mistakes you need to avoid if you want to get the job.
So in this article, I’ll walk you through how to answer this question and impress the interviewer, no matter what variation of the question they ask… including:
Let’s get started…
Hiring managers, recruiters and HR staff all like to ask this question. You could hear this among the questions in a phone interview, or in a late-stage interview near the end of the process.
Here are the two big reasons employers love to ask this:
Employers want to hire people with goals and motivation for their career. No employer wants to hire someone who is just looking for the first job they can find, or any job they can get.
They’d prefer to find someone who has specific reasons for wanting their job – because from their perspective, that person is going to be more motivated and interested in the work… and more likely to stay long-term!
And if they ask a variation of this question that mentions challenges… like, “What challenges are you looking for in a job?”… then it’s a clear sign that they want someone motivated and eager to grow their career.
Some companies won’t care about this as much; they just want to hire someone who can fill their immediate need and do the job. But when a company asks a question like the example above, they’re NOT that type of company. They would like to find somebody who they can promote and help grow in the organization.
If you’re interviewing at a company with a very relaxed work environment where you self-manage a lot, and you tell them that you’re looking for a rigid work environment where you can just follow instructions from your boss, then they aren’t going to offer you the job.
So make sure you research the company culture and work environment to help prepare to answer this interview question. We’ll talk about everything else you should do to give a great answer next…
When you go to answer this question, the first thing you need to do is have a specific idea of what challenges you’re targeting or what type of learning opportunity you’d like to find next in your career.
You want to sound motivated and eager to learn, and you need to be able to explain it clearly and concisely to them.
Let’s look at a sample interview answer now, so you can see how this would sound in a real interview.
“I’d love to lead more client projects in my next role. I’ve enjoyed communicating with clients in my current Account Manager position, but my Team Leader manages most of the projects in terms of being responsible for the deliverables, delegating tasks, and more. I feel ready for that challenge now, so I’m hoping to do that in my next position.”
The sample answer above is effective because it:
There’s one way to make your answer better, though… and that’s to mention something specific that excites you about their position (usually something you saw on the job description, or something you learned in a previous interview with someone else in the company).
So let’s look at the same example answer above, but with more information at the end, “tailored” to the employer’s job…
“I’d love to lead more client projects in my next role. I’ve enjoyed communicating with clients in my current Account Manager position, but my Team Leader manages most of the projects in terms of being responsible for the deliverables, delegating tasks, and more. I feel ready for that challenge now, so I’m hoping to do that in my next position. When I spoke to Bethany in my phone interview, she mentioned that the person you hire will start by leading one or two client projects at a time, and could grow into leading even more. So the position sounds exciting.”
Now you’ve shown the employer that you’re motivated and energetic about your work… you’ve put thought into your job search and know what you want (so you’re less likely to change your mind and leave after a few months, or lose motivation), and you’ve shown them why you’re excited about their particular job and why you want to work for them.
That’s how to get the hiring manager excited about offering you the position. If you can do this, they’re going to forget about those other candidates and offer you the job ASAP!
However, questions like, “What challenges are you looking for?” are a bit trickier, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of only talking about yourself and forget to relate it to the employer and their job.
The best answers, like the sample answer above, will show what you’re looking to do in the next position you take and what excites you as a professional… but will also show the employer that you took the time to understand their job and that you there are specific things that excite you about working for them.
“I enjoy working as part of a team, so one thing that I’m targeting in my next position is a collaborative, team-focused environment. Based on what I saw from researching your company and reviewing the job description, it sounds like that’s the type of work culture you promote here, so I’m excited to learn more about the opportunity today.”
If they ask, “Describe the three things that are most important for you in your next job,” then take a second to think, get your answer organized in your head, and address the question directly at the beginning of your answer.
You should start by saying, “The three things that I’m looking for are…”
Then, mention those three things, and conclude by talking about why their job seemed like a good match for what you want. Tell them what caught your interest in their position or why you applied.
“Three things that I’m looking for in my next job are a collaborative, team-focused culture, opportunities to learn and grow my skills from a technical standpoint, and a chance to learn more leadership skills over time. After reading the job description for this role, it sounds like this could be a good match for what I’m looking for, so I was excited to come interview for the position and learn more.”
If you follow the tips above, you’ll have a great answer when employers ask questions about what type of challenge you’re looking in the job interview. You’ll be more memorable, get more job offers, and avoid giving them fear or doubt over whether you’re the right person for the role!
Other commonly-asked interview questions to be ready for:
…And for a list of the top 15 most common questions and answers, go here.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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