Armed with an MBA from a reputed college, Sanya started her career as a brand management specialist with a young startup, with a relatively small team. As she had expected, she got to learn in a fast-paced environment and wear multiple hats, and also handle various challenges. She tried to take it all in her stride, till her boss too began giving her a tough time.
That is when she realised it was time to actively look out for other opportunities, and eventually got called for an interview.
The recruiter was friendly and all went smooth till the question, ‘Why do you want to move on from your current role?’ was thrown at her.
Fortunately, Sanya did not let the question affect her composure. After a deliberate pause she responded without revealing the real reason behind her decision to change jobs!
Sanya managed to get away with “I have learned as much as I could here, and seek new challenges”.
“If the recruiter is mature enough to probe further with follow-up questions, then it makes sense to ask why one is making a career change”
Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Pramerica Life Insurance
Like Sanya, most candidates wishing to switch jobs are posed this question by recruiters. The usual responses include, “For better salary”, or “For growth opportunities”.
But why do recruiters want to know the reason why a candidate wishes to switch jobs? How does it help them? How does the information help recruiters judge and evaluate the candidates better?
The HR leaders HRKatha spoke to, stated some valid reasons why candidates are asked the cause behind their plan to quit or move on from their current organisation.
For one, this question helps the recruiter understand the culture fitment of the talent. As per Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Pramerica Life Insurance, this allows the recruiter to spot red flags, if any. After all, hiring is a strategic call. “The recruiter would want to know the trigger point for the career change the candidate is making,” states Sharma.
Pradipta Sahoo, CHRO, Pragati Finserv, admits to asking this question during interviews. Sahoo explains that generally the response is used to gauge their expectations from the role or the job they are seeking.
Sahoo explains that from the response to this question, the recruiter gets to know the motivating factor for the employee. “Depending on whether the candidate is leaving for higher pay, or better work environment, or for promotion or skill enhancement, one is able to understand what exactly motivates the individual,” says Sahoo.
However, all HR leaders agree that no candidate would actually be honest enough to reveal the real reason behind moving from their current organisation. “Nobody reveals the real motive and candidates come up with framed answers for this question,” reveals VDV Singh, former VP-HR, JK Cement.
“It is pointless to ask candidates why they are moving from their current organisation because no one will give an honest answer”
VDV Singh, former VP-HR, JK Cement
In fact, Singh never throws this question at any candidate during interviews. “It is pointless to ask candidates why they are moving from their current organisation because no one will give an honest answer,” states Singh, who finds the question to be irrelevant and a cliché.
It makes more sense to ask the candidates what they expect from the future role they are applying for.
Even if candidates are gullible enough to spit out the real reason, it is rarely taken in a positive light. For instance, if candidates are moving or joining another firm because of a bad experience with their previous employer or because they could not get along with their boss, sharing such information with their potential employer in the interview can go against them. “Generally, such revelations do not work in favour of the candidates,” admits Singh. However, Singh suggests, “Recruiters should take such revelations in a positive light and try to avoid doubting the candidates. They should strive to delve deeper and get to know the whole story,” adds Singh.
While Sahoo and Sharma do not believe that asking someone why they are leaving their previous company is a waste of time, they also emphasise that recruiters who choose to ask this question during interviews, should not just do it as a tick-in-the box activity. Their job is to go deeper and probe further to find out the real reason.
“Depending on whether the candidate is leaving for higher pay, or better work environment, or for promotion or skill enhancement, one is able to understand what exactly motivates the individual”
Pradipta Sahoo, CHRO, Pragati Finserv
“If the recruiter is mature enough to probe further with follow-up questions, then it makes sense to ask such a question,” shares Sharma.
Sometimes, asking this question directly may not work either, says HR leaders. Therefore, the real motive behind asking this question remains defeated. Recruiters can then frame the question in a different way.
Though a question like this is seen as an essential part of the interview by most recruiters, it does not really serve its purpose. It is more of a ‘must have’ but ‘no use’. Either the recruiters should now do away with the practice of posing this question, or they should actually probe and find out the whole truth.