One of the top deciding factors for hiring candidates is determining who among them is the perfect match for the company.
That’s why one of the most common interview questions you may encounter is, “What are you looking for in your next job?” This is an excellent opportunity to show the employer that their company is the perfect match for you!
Here’s how to best answer this interview question, as discussed by experts.
Terry B. McDougall, PCC, MBA
Connect your skills and strengths with the needs of the role
When answering this question, it’s important to connect your skills and strengths in a way that matches the needs of the role in a very relevant and authentic way.
Here are three things to think through and include in your answer:
- What are you good at?
- What do you like to do?
- Which of your skill sets would be valued in the role you’re interviewing for?
Craft an answer that lies at the intersection of what you like to do, what you’re good at, and what the company values in the role you’re interviewing for. At this intersection, you can genuinely tap into your passion to speak persuasively about why you’d be a good fit for the role.
Here’s an example of what that would sound like, “In my next role, I’d like to leverage my strength in process re-engineering to provide value and have an opportunity to be part of a supportive team and be able to continue to grow.”
Career Consultant | Founder, Flourish Career Consulting
Emphasize on the corporate culture of the company you’re applying for
When asked “What are you looking for in your next job?” during an interview, you’ll want to customize your answer to fit the requirements of the role and corporate culture of the company you’re applying to, while still including an accurate description of what you’re actually looking for in a job.
With this type of question, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of whether you’ll be the right fit for both the position and the company. They’ll be assessing whether you’ll fit in with the culture, the team and if you’re interested in the actual job itself.
You should describe the kind of corporate culture you’d like to work in and make sure that it matches the culture of the company that you’re interviewing with. This will help the interviewer understand that you will fit into their culture.
For example, let’s say you’re applying for a job at a company that has an open office environment and a big focus on teamwork. You may want to say something like: “I’m very interested in a job where I’ll be able to collaborate with my co-workers and receive constructive feedback, so I can continue to learn and improve my skills.”
Next, you’ll want to talk about the activities you’ll actually see yourself performing in the job. For example, if you’re interviewing for a sales position where you know you’ll need to travel and meet new people, you could say something like: “I’m also looking for a job where I’ll be able to get out of the office and focus on meeting new customers and building positive relationships.”
If you’re interviewing for a position as a Data Analyst, you might want to say something along the lines of: “I love problem-solving, so in my next role I’m really hoping to work in an environment where I can focus on research and analysis, as well as collaborating with others to gain further insight on possible solutions.”
Related: How to Nail a Job Interview
Director, Successful Release
This is one of those questions that is easy to mess up. Having interviewed hundreds of applicants and helped thousands more at Successful Release I have a few tips that have worked out well.
Connect the skills you have with the job you want
This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your strongest attributes as a candidate and connect them to what your interviewer is looking for.
“I’m looking for a position where I can leverage my past success leading a team of high-performing customer care workers. I would like to be able to leverage all of my experience to continue delivering industry-leading support outcomes to valued customers.”
Demonstrate your understanding of the team environment
This question is often used to assess whether a candidate actually understands what they would be getting themselves into. You should reassure your interviewer that you understand through your answer.
“For my next position, I’m looking to work in a highly collaborative environment, with very bright people, and high expectations. I thrive in environments like this and find it’s where I do both my best work and learn the most.”
Matthew Warzel, CPRW
President, MJW Careers, LLC
Anytime a candidate is interviewing, the pressure’s on. Hiring managers spend way too much time and energy sourcing, pre-screening, interviewing, negotiating, hiring, on-boarding, training, and managing to do it over and over.
Make your answer about them, not you
What’s your best bet? Play the game. Sharpen your collective job-hunting skills including your interviewing prowess. Try hard to think in terms of delivering statements based on short, concise, fact-based, and pain-resolving points to shift the hiring manager’s thinking towards, “Hey, this person knows why I have this opening and how they can fill the void.”
Make it more about them and their needs! And please do not use more than one story per answer. Do not discount a project you were really proud of because you beat the heck out of it and told the narrative for 3 separate answers.
With all these in mind, when they ask about what you are looking for in your next job…make it about them, not you.
Some examples are:
“I am interested in my next role focusing on collaborative global projects and cross-functional communication channels to better stretch your revenue gains internationally.” – because you noticed on Google News they landed a new client area internationally and can expand that satellite’s footprint.
“I am interested in my next role focusing on resolving your vendor and logistical issues and ensuring your product meets your customer’s demands.” – because you noticed how they never had enough product stocked and cross-referenced that with an affiliation article about the trucking industry and major clients impacted by the shortfalls
“I am interested in my next role focusing on completing additional high-rise and downtown construction projects to ensure your union teams don’t sit too long on the bench, as been the case most recently” – because you leveraged relations and networking aptitude properly to find out too much talent hasn’t been working this past 6 months.
Thinking outside the box when job hunting or preparing a resume shouldn’t be the only time you try some creative brainstorming. Put those skills to use before an interview, that’s the single most important piece of the puzzle.
President & Chief Career Advisor, The Bauke Group
Answering the question “What are you looking for in your next job” is your opportunity to make sure that you and your prospective employer are a good match. Likely you’ve seen a job description or at least a job posting so you know what the job entails.
Assess how closely your skills and experience fit the job description
The goal is a win-win, right? If you appear to be a good fit, plan your interviewing strategy to focus on those areas by telling stories or giving examples that show you at your best.
Don’t afraid to talk specifically about your goals, whether it’s the ability to grow, use a specific skill, or even learn a new one.
Being honest about who you are, while also ensuring that you are listening to what the interviewer is asking and answering them as directly as possible will increase your chances of beginning a mutually beneficial employment relationship. If it’snot a great fit for you, move on and continue your search!
HarperCollins Leadership Author |
Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition
Provide an answer that explains how you will benefit future, potential companies
For example, you might explain that you’d like to work for a company that encourages teamwork, in a team-driven culture.
A good response template to a to a recruiter would be: “My current job working as a _______, for “x” amount of years has given me the opportunity to develop many of the skills required for what’s next including _______, _______, for ______, and _______. “
Another example would be: “I am looking for a position where a positive attitude, teamwork, a learning environment, willingness to provide leadership opportunities, hard work and a willingness to do what-ever-it-takes to get the job done is required.”
Career Coach and Founder, Monumental Me
This is an interesting question, one that would seem to be all about the needs of the job seeker. But hiring managers and recruiters ask this question to discern two things.
Show you are interested in the company mission and not just with the job offer
First, they want to see that the candidate isn’t just interested in the job itself but in the organization. People leave jobs but (assuming all is going well) they will be loyal to organizations they take pride in being a part of.
For example, an executive assistant is a job that could be relatively similar to various companies. If the candidate replies with an answer focused on the job duties and requirements, it may not pass the test. The better way to answer is that in addition to the job itself being a good match that you’re really looking for an organization whose mission you’re strongly aligned with.
If you can show you’re not just interested in the role but that you’re passionate about the company you’d be part of, that’s a winning answer.
Find something about the organization that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. Don’t forget, someone founded that organization on a mission. The mission matters.
Highlight how you value the people you work with
The second thing they are looking for is if you’d be a good fit within the team. That means, the people you work with have to matter to you and you can show that in many ways.
If you’ve done your homework, you should know something about the professional background of the person you’d be reporting to. Is there something about this person that is exciting, that you believe you’d be able to learn a great deal from?
There’s no way around it, the people we work with matter, they have the power to impact our overall work experience.
So whether it’s because you’re looking for a collaborative team or one person in particular that you’d be thrilled to learn from, make sure you can include it somewhere in your answer.
Founder & CEO, BrandLoom
A ubiquitous question that turns out to be a deciding factor whether a candidate will be hired or not. Candidates often fail to understand the purpose of an interviewer behind asking this question.
If you ever encounter this question in your interview, remind yourself that you’re being evaluated if you fit in the role being offered and even the workplace culture.
Match your answer with the job description
Coming to how to answer this question, there is no single answer. It might vary from person-to-person based on your individuality. However, you should respond to this question thoughtfully.
Consider these things when preparing your response:
- Your response should help the interviewer know whether your goals, skills, and interests are a match for the organization.
- Your response should win their trust by making them believe that you’ll be a good long-term fit for the company.
A good way here is to know the company, its work culture, goals, and employees better. Also, go through the Job description properly. Most of your responses can be created based on the specifications given in the job description. Just do your research and be honest.
CEO, Traverse Jobs
Identify where your skills will be put to great use
The main thing to focus on when looking for your next job is knowing what top two or three skills you bring to the table, and whether those are things you actually like doing on a daily basis. Generally, we want to do the things we excel at, but that’s not always the case.
For example, I liked to write and did that for the majority of my career before my current job. Now I don’t enjoy it as much, partly because I don’t really have the time to focus on it and partly because it’s hard to pick it up after some time away. I wouldn’t choose a writing job for my next position because I’ve found other parts of running my business that I enjoy more.
Once you feel confident with the skills you have, then you can focus on where you can put those skills to best use.
Is there an issue area you have some expertise in? Do you have a specific cause you’d like to advance? Where do you want to make an impact? Do you have a local, regional, federal, or even international focus? From there, you look for openings, network with colleagues in those spaces, and keep following leads.
One final suggestion: Job boards play a vital role in any job search. The reason is this: They are great tools for conducting research into companies, trade associations, and nonprofits who may not have an opening exactly for you right now, but could in the future.
You can learn a lot about the mission and culture of a potential employer by reading what they post for other positions. And if you like what you see, you keep them on your radar screen and even proactively target them by asking for an informational interview.
Mental Success Coach | Author, “Success Mindsets”
This is a “fit” question, designed to help the interviewer determine whether or not you will be a good fit for the role. But, as an interviewee, it is a loaded question because you likely don’t know what they consider to be a good fit. And, different interviewers at the same company may have different perceptions of fit.
Be specific around general aspirations
Some general, but power aspirations include: looking for an opportunity to contribute, add value to a team, and/or propel the organization forward.
But, it is not enough to just state that you want these things, it is important to also demonstrate that you want these things by providing specific examples of how you have fulfilled those interests in the past. Again, you are trying to demonstrate a track record of meaningful contributions.
An example of a poor answer is: “I am looking for a salary of $100k, good work/life balance, and a company that will continually invest in my development.”
An example of a good answer is: “I am looking for an opportunity to utilize my talents and strengths to positively contribute to the organization and the customers I serve.”
An example of a great answer is: “In my past job, I learned that I loved to meaningfully contribute to the teams that I worked in and the customers that I served. For example, there was one client my team worked with, and they kept having difficulties with an app we had developed for them.
Unfortunately, this issue came up at a time when they needed a solution right away and my team was swamped with other tasks. I decided to step up to the plate and work a little extra to help them get the app working.
Not only was my team super grateful for lightening their load, but by getting the app up and running quickly, we were able to help our client bring in $20,000 extra in revenue.”
Executive Recruiter | Director, Path to Promotion
Understanding what your key drivers are will help you to answer this question well
Most people are motivated by different things, at different times in their careers. These are things like job fit (doing what you like to do and what you are good at), job stretch (learning new challenges), career opportunity, who the hiring manager is, and cultural fit.
For example, if a job fit is the most important thing to you, you might describe the things that you are seeking in terms of this. Your response would be, “In previous roles, I have really enjoyed developing and implementing strategy – I am attracted to this role because…”
If the hiring manager is the most important thing to you, it might be something along the lines of “At this stage in my career I am looking to learn from a leader who can develop me in these areas….”
The most important thing you can do for this question is to understand your “why” first.
Founder, Mergers & Inquisitions
The objective of the interviewer with all questions is to determine if the prospective employee will be a good fit.
People should do their homework on a company before applying and especially before interviewing. Know where you want to work before you want to work anywhere.
For example, if the company is environmentally-conscious or innovative in their field mention that’s what you’re looking for in your next job. It’s an honest answer and a good one. Compatible values can resonate with an interviewer.
Here are some additional examples of advisable approaches to answering this question:
If the answer is industry-specific, it should be based on knowledge
Knowledge makes someone an asset to the company while ambition or curiosity alone does not. This answer can also be in the form of a question.
For example, they can state their industry-specific skill and ask how they will have the opportunity to implement it successfully. That’s impressive.
Provide an interesting answer as opposed to what you think the interviewer wants to hear
They conduct many interviews. The bland answer you found from online searches won’t stand out. They’ve heard it before. To be exceptional, it’s got to be interesting and genuine.
Definitely do not mention salary as part of this answer
Most people in the position of conducting interviews value process over outcome. The most successful executives believe in this as well and many of them end up philanthropists or professors.
They’re looking to give back in a cool way and achieved being in a spot to do so by focusing on the process, not the money.
Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com
Never give a vague answer
There’s a wrong way to answer this question. That response is anything that is too vague or sounds flighty. Do not respond by saying “I really haven’t thought about it” or “I want to stay just long enough to save up so I can backpack through Europe.”
Instead, respond in a manner that makes note of what the company is doing that you admire and how you, and your skill sets, would be able to contribute to the role in the long term.
Related: What Not to Say in a Job Interview
Mary Beth Ferrante
Co-Founder and CEO, WRK360
Start with self-reflection
What is missing in your current role? What are the top two priorities for you in your next position? How will those priorities be fulfilled by the role you are applying for?
The best answer is one that is specific to you and aligns with the role and culture of the company.
If you are looking for more flexibility, for example, you might say that you are looking for an organization that values and recognizes the quality of work. Then you can share a story to demonstrate how you would bring specific value to the role.
Chief Operating Officer, AiLaw
Consider your targets as they relate to the job position
Frame your answer so that it shows how you will benefit the company. You should always be honest and also realize the interviewer that how you will add value to their company.
To give a better reply to this question you should research ahead of the interview and learn as much as possible about the company. Read the company’s detail on their website, search their recent news stories, and review the LinkedIn page of the company. Your answer to this question should emphasize your interest and goals as they relate to the job.
Business Development Consultant, TeacherOn
When an interviewer asks you ‘what are you looking for in your next job?’, he/she is actually trying to interpret whether you are a good fit for the role or not. They already have a set expectation from you, and if your answer isn’t anywhere close to their expectations, you are out of the picture.
Although it is a tricky question, it doesn’t have a singular right answer. Answering this question will vary depending on the roles and the companies. However, you can customize your response quickly.
Check the requirements of the job description and compare your skills with it
See the connections and make your answer accordingly. However, don’t lie about your skills as the interviewer will easily find it out. Do not talk about money and other perks while answering this question.
Discuss your skills and experience, how it is going to benefit the company, and your long term career goals with the company (obviously considering the company’s benefits).
Depending upon the role’s requirement, you may tell them whether you would like to work in a team or independently. This would convince the interviewer that you see your future with the company and are a good fit for the role.
An example of an excellent answer to this question is: “Having written some of the most searched articles and a rich experience covering a variety of topics in previous organizations, I would like to hone my writing skills. I want to work in a position that will allow me to grow professionally along with the company.”
Founder & CEO, NoDegree.com
You want to focus on being positive. It is very important to research the company and see what they offer. Interviewers love it when people have done their research.
It is best to give an answer that is unique. Growth is a common answer but it is overused. It won’t set you apart. The key is to dig deep and answer your “why”.
What does the new position or company offer that your previous employer doesn’t? How does that align with your values? Why do you want to grow? How will you be fulfilled if you grow?
Speak about your values
When you speak about your values, it sets you apart. It is honest and you are giving them your “why”. They get a deeper insight into who you are and what you stand for.
People can also sense your excitement. It is great to see passionate people talk about why they value the job. So you can talk about growth but the answer is significantly stronger when you talk about why you want to grow with their company.
So just tie a common answer and pair it with a value. It won’t be a typical answer they hear and they will be more likely to remember you.
Speaker & Career Mentor, Connect with ME
Always keep your career goals in mind
The skills and experience needed to achieve those goals along with expanding your current skill set are what you should be looking for in every career opportunity. It’s important to be specific so that your next job will challenge you and allow you to grow.
If the question is being asked by someone interviewing you for a specific job, make sure that the skills and experience you include are a combination of those that you already possess along with the skills and experience you are looking to gain. The answer should match the requirements of the job as well.
Founder & President, Frietch Consulting Group
Tailor the response to the job and cite examples
Nowadays, the standard cookie-cutter responses don’t fly when it comes to this question. The best way to answer is, to be honest, and genuine in your response.
If you have done the research on the company and the role, your response can be tailored to the job and the company. When you give the answer, be ready to cite examples from the conversations you have had or that research you did.
An example that I have used in my past was for a company the was big on its values:
“I am looking to find a role that challenges my creative ability, allows me some autonomy for decision making, and a fast-paced environment that encourages its employees to thrive.”
Founder, Ultimate CV Template
Figure out what parts of the company and role you’re most excited about
This is a question that gives you a great opportunity to show the interviewer that this job aligns with what you are looking for. Describe a version of the role you’re interviewing for as the ideal version of “your next job”, the more the interviewer will begin to imagine you working in that role.
Do your research ahead of time and know what the company is like and what the role is like, then figure out what the parts of that company and role excite you the most. These can then form the basis of your answer when you are asked about what you’re looking for in your next role.
Other things that can be great to call out are:
- That you’re looking for a role in which you can grow
- That you’re looking for a role in which you can learn
- That you’re looking for a role in which you can take on new challenges
- That you’re looking for a role in which you can work hard to prove yourself
Basically, anything which alludes to your working hard and growing at the company shows that you are a forward thinker and a strong candidate for the job.