If it was so easy… If we could just change this or that thing about our present job. Working less, earning more, having nicer colleagues, getting more recognition for our efforts. That’s not how it works though. The only place where you can really change something about the job is your own business. As long as you work for someone else, however, and they are the one spending money for your labor, you have to play by their rules. But why do the hiring managers ask this question in the interviews?
They typically have two questions on their mind. First one: Why are you considering leaving your present job. Second one: Whether they can offer you (in your new job) the things you are missing in your present occupation. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this tricky question, including some unconventional choices. Do not forget to read also my notes below the answers for additional explanations, and also to understand some common mistakes job seekers do while dealing with this question.
7 sample answers to “What would you change about your current job?” interview question
- I would change one thing only–my manager. He’s a strongly autocratic leader, letting us no room for creativeness, or for expressing our opinion. I feel more like a slave than an employee to be honest–always just obeying, never having a chance to do things my way. Maybe I liked it a bit at the beginning, when I was a new force in the company, and wanted to learn from more experienced colleagues, but that’s not the case anymore. Now I would love to put my creativity to the test, improve some processes in work, and implement some interesting ideas. But I do not really have a chance to do so, and it is the reason no. 1 why I decided to look for a new job.
- I would not change anything. The reason why I am looking for something new is simply that I feel I’ve outgrown my present role in the company. And it is a small consultancy, no room for career growth. I cannot be an accountant assistant for another two or three years, because I would only stagnate in my role. Hence I am applying with you, a bigger company, with a big accounting department, a place where I see more opportunities to realize my career ambitions. But I can say only good things about my present job, and I am grateful that they gave me a chance in their company. I learned what I could, gave what I could, and now it is time to move on.
- That’s a simple one–I would change my salary. But it is not possible, because the company has a certain budget for my position, and it cannot be extended. I’ve talked about it with my superiors several times. Other than that I would not change anything significant. Sure enough, some details can be better in the workplace, but I think it is the case in each and every company. You aren’t going to have an amazing relationship with every single colleague, for example. That is something I can bear with. Considering my living costs, however, I cannot work much longer for the salary they are paying me at my present occupation. My kids are going to school next year, and I just cannot cover the expenses with my present income. Hence I am looking for another job.
- The thing I would change is me. What I try to say here is that there’s not one thing, or two or three or how many you want, that if they changed them in the company I would stay with the organization. It is just not the case. I am experiencing a burnout right now, and the only way out I see is changing my career. I want to have a simple job ,with much lower stress levels, just a normal place you can leave at 4pm with a clear mind, and enjoy your life outside of work. That’s the reason why I am here with you today.
- I do not know if one thing would be enough, but the real showstopper for me are the night shifts. My sleeping habits really got messed up with all these changes to daily routine–one week working during the day, other week working during the night–it really isn’t something I can bear with any longer. I am looking for a job with day shifts only, something like you offer here. If my present employer offered me to work only during the day, I may consider staying with them. But that’s not the case, and I have no other option than looking for a new job.
- I would change the entire team in the sales department. The relationships just aren’t good. We have a lot of internal conflicts in the team, and though I tried to do something about it, I failed to bring about any major changes. You know, on some days I am almost afraid going to work, thinking about all the mischievous games my colleagues play, and the tense atmosphere in the office. I cannot change the entire team, but I can quit the team. That’s what I am trying to do right now.
- I would change the leadership philosophy, the direction where the company is heading. It’s been a while since I was on the same page with the executives, when it comes to our product line, and especially to the sales techniques we use in order to extract the maximum value from each customer. There’s some unethical stuff going on, and I honestly find it hard to bear with it. Hence I decided to leave the company, even though I am earning a lot of money in my present job. Money cannot buy happiness though. I prefer earning less and working for a company that isn’t deceiving their customers.
If you wouldn’t change anything, you should explain your decision to leave the job
It isn’t a bad answer saying that you wouldn’t change anything in particular, at least not something major. It shows that you are a tolerant employee, someone who isn’t looking for perfection, someone who won’t be unhappy in work just because maybe one of the colleagues does not like them, or because they have to work overtime each Monday.
When you say so, however, you should elaborate on it, explaining why you want to change your job. Perhaps you have overgrown your current role (and there aren’t opportunities for career growth in the company), or you follow some career goal you cannot really achieve with your present employer. One way or another, you should clearly explain why you are pondering making a change.
* 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 (+ much more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Career change can be an excellent answer
When you are applying for a job in a different field, or perhaps moving from a big international corporation to a small local company, or maybe from a for-profit sector of economy to non-profit, it is okay saying that you simply need a complete change, and that no adjustments on the side of your current employer would make you change your mind.
You can talk about experiencing a burnout, or simply being tired with the field, and not enjoying your life anymore. Changing career isn’t anything extraordinary in the 21st century. As long as you explain your reasons properly, hiring managers will be satisfied with your answer.
Try to avoid extreme negativity
It is logical that we do not like something about our present job when we want to change it. And you can speak about the bad things, things you do not like, or colleagues you cannot bear with any longer. However, try to keep it professional and avoid some harsh accusations.
Maybe your boss is a compete idiot, or the company uses extremely outdated processes, or nobody there really knows what they are doing. You can refer to such things, without a doubt, but try to choose your words wisely. Saying that your boss is an idiot, and saying that you aren’t on the same page when it comes to leadership with your boss, can mean exactly the same thing. But the later sounds much better than the former in the interview…
Alternative question: What is the one thing you would want to change about your company?
In some cases hiring managers won’t ask about your job, but about the company you worked for, and what would you change, or improve, should you have a chance. The question may seem similar to the previous one to the eye of an outsider, but skilled interviewers know it is different in many ways. While the original question deals with your job–duties, responsibilities, salary, management, the other one is more about the company–their goals and values, working culture, products, etc. And the question is more typical in the interviews for managerial jobs.
Give your imagination a free hand. Imagine you are the CEO of the company where you worked, or even better, the owner. Think about principal things you could change from your position–organizational structure, leadership practices, working culture, core values and goals. Tell the hiring managers what you would change, and why. Your reasoning is most important here. You should suggest a change that would, at least in your opinion, change the company for the better–ideally for all stakeholders, though in reality it isn’t typically possible. Still, you can suggest some changes that will make it a better place to work at for employees, or changes that will help the company achieve better results…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- How does this position fit with your career goals?
- What other companies are you interviewing with?
- What does quality mean to you?