We are looking for a new job for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we simply need a change, or cannot stand the old workplace anymore. Another time it is just a gut feeling. Deep down we know that we should be somewhere else, and do something different for a living. Eight or ten hours a day is not little time, and it makes no sense to spend it doing something we do not enjoy, or outright hate.

More often than not, we do not change the job because we are looking for something in a new one. We want to change a job simply because do not want to have the old role anymore. But that’s not something you should say to the interviewers.

They seek some enthusiasm in your voice. They want to hear that the most important thing in your next position is exactly what it can offer to you–in terms of your duties, or working environment, collective in the workplace, or intellectual challenge, or some other thing. Everything is fine as long as it makes sense, and negativity does not prevail over positivity in your answer.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting interview question. You will find some typical choices in my list, but also a few unconventional answers that may leave your interviewers dumbfounded. And sometimes that can be exactly what you want to achieve :)… Let’s have a look at this list.


7 sample answers to “What is most important to you in your next position?” interview question

  1. The most important thing for me is to see a meaningful purpose of my work. In the big corporation where I worked up to this point I was responsible for a very limited set of tasks only. I did some work in MS Excel, sorted out some data, did some calculations. But to be honest, it was so abstract that I had no idea what purpose it served, and could not see any fruits of my work. It became increasingly dull over time, and eventually I could not stand it anymore. But I know your place is a smaller company, and that I’ll have a direct contact with clients in your place. I will know when someone is satisfied with our service, when we did something great for them. And that makes a fundamental difference for me, in terms of my feelings in the job, and motivation to try hard.
  2. I simply want to have normal working hours. In my last job, we often stayed in work until seven or eight pm, simply because we had to. They paid us for the extra time, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I have a life outside of work, a husband, children, and though I enjoy my profession, I do not live only to work. I’ve read the reviews of your place on Glassdoor, and it seems you have a better system in your work, and employees do not have to stay in the office until 8pm, just because the managers aren’t competent, or because the place is heavily understaffed. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  3. The most important thing for me is to be rewarded appropriately for my efforts. Look, I’ve been a salesman for fifteen years. I’m no beginner in the field. Know how to find leads, warm them up, and convert them, and eventually make from them repetitive customers. I can bring a lot of business in the company. It’s fine for me to see other sales representatives earning well, but if I generate twice as much sales volume, I expect to earn twice as much as they do. It wasn’t the case in any of my last two jobs. Can we change it here?
  4. To be honest, the most important thing for me is that someone finally gives me a chance to prove my abilities. I’ve been unemployed for two years now. That’s a long time. Maybe my interviewing skills aren’t that good, or companies prefer to give a chance to the youngsters. Nothing wrong with that in my book, but I know that I can still offer a lot to my new employer, in terms of skills and experience. At this stage of my career, I do not have a luxury of a choice. I’d take any job in my field–the most important thing is to have one, to get a chance from some smart hiring manager who doesn’t consider my year of birth more important than my skills
  5. I’d like to stay in my field, and to grow as a financial analyst. That’s really important to me. I know that they say you should try different things while you are young, so you get a taste of this or that, and find your true calling, something you really enjoy doing. But I’ve already found my calling. I want to specialize in financial analysis, and perhaps one day lead an entire finance or accounting department of a big company. To make it happen, I have to stay in the field, but do more elaborate tasks as I did in my last job. That’s exactly why I am applying for a financial analyst position with your company.
  6. What’s most important to me? That I work under a normal manager. Someone who’s not autocratic, someone who actually listens to the feedback of their subordinates and does not lead the office with an iron fist. Because that’s exactly what I experienced in my last job. And I can tell you I found it hard to get up in the morning, and at times I was even scared of my own boss… In my opinion, feedback should flow freely in all directions in each organization which hopes to be successful. And I want to work in such a company, not in one where you simply listen to orders and feel more like a slave than like an equal human being. I hope I won’t experience anything similar ever in my career. It was a nightmare.
  7. That’s very simple–I want to enjoy my tasks in work. But whether one enjoys them depends on a lot of things–the tasks, your colleagues, the atmosphere in the workplace, the management style of the company leaders, and many other things. I spent a lot of time researching about potential employers, reading online reviews, checking websites, talking to people from my circles. After everything I’ve done, I have a gut feeling that I will enjoy my days in your place–what’s the most important thing for me. And that’s exactly the reason why I am sitting here today.


Meaningful purpose is a good answer–but only if you can realistically find it in your work

It’s a great feeling when you leave your office happy, knowing that you did something good for someone, or participated on some great initiative. They say that the most happy employees are those who can see the results of their work: A mason who sees a house he built, a social worker who sees how a family reunites after her intervention, a teacher whose pupil finally passes the difficult exam…

It’s a great answer referring to a meaningful purpose, but be careful if you apply for a job in a big corporation, or for some dull administrative role. These aren’t bad jobs, just not the types in which you can easily see what actually you achieve with your work…

* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!

Work-life balance is an excellent reason to pick

Many people are overworked nowadays. Some people work during the day, from 8am to 8pm, then they talk about work over dinner, and then they dream about it in the night. It’s almost a cultural thing in certain Asian countries, but definitely a nightmare in my book.

There’s nothing wrong with not giving your job the first priority in life. Family can come before it, and health should always be superior. If you’ve been working too much up to this point, neglecting your family or experiencing some health issues as a reason of working non-stop, it’s a great choice for your interview answer. Say that the most important thing is your next position is to have a better life-work balance.


Sometimes all we want is getting a chance

It’s not easy looking for a job when you are in your fifties, or when you’ve been unemployed for a long time, or perhaps seek a decent job right after the college. Why not saying that you do not care, that the most important thing for you is to simply get a chance? An opportunity to demonstrate your abilities, to bring some value to your employer, to do something great for them, or to simply do not feel worthless anymore.

And most importantly, a chance others didn’t give you. I know that this may seem like playing a bit with emotions of your interviewers. But hiring managers are also people–they have their emotions, and maybe they also struggled to get a job in some stage of their career.

I mean, sometimes you have to take a risk in an interview, especially if you have nothing to lose. If you’ve been rejected in your last ten interviews or unemployed for more than two years, taking risks and trying some unconventional answers can be your best chance to turn your luck around. Or even your only chance…


Show them why you think you can find with them what you are looking for

Regardless of what you talk about, you should always stress your conviction (or at least hope) that you can find it with their company. But it should not be a mere wish, a dream that isn’t based on reality.

Tell them that you did your research. You tried to learn as much as possible about their place. Checking reviews from their employees and customers, and perhaps even talking to some people from your circles who worked in the company, you got a good idea of what to expect, and believe you can find that “most important thing” while working for their company.


Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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