In today’s economy, a career transition is a norm.

As you navigate the job search process, it is critical that you apply as much effort as possible to your move to assure you will make a smooth change. When considering a new position, you need to act with finesse and poise as you leave one employer and interview with the next.

Tact, grace, and focus are particularly critical in the interview process. Recently, two different candidates were passed over for great positions that would otherwise have been a successful move. Their qualifications weren’t the problem. It was because they spent too much time in the interview focusing on why they left something that was broken rather than moving towards something better for them. As you navigate the job search process, you must maintain positivity in your attitude and communications with your potential new employer.

For instance, when the interviewer asks you why you are leaving your present job, you are not being given an open invitation to bad-mouth your current or past companies. Engaging in this sort of revelation does nothing to advance your cause with your new employer – it certainly is not transitioning with poise. It sends a signal to the interviewer that you have a negative outlook, which is not an appealing attribute. Even if your experiences have been negative, or if the company has more problems than profits, delving into the miry pit of your poor employment situation will only hurt you. Any negativity you project in the interview will set the tone regarding your personal outlook and most likely reflect poorly on you. The more you detail the negative aspects of your job, the more the interviewer will wonder, “If we make this hire, what would he/she be telling other people about us?”

Positivity, on the other hand, pays off. So, how do you frame your story when it’s not all sunshine and roses? It should not be about what you are leaving; it should be about what opportunities you are seeking. You would not spend interview time talking about why you weren’t a good fit for a job. Similarly, you do not want to dedicate interview time and your energy to delve into reasons why something wasn’t a good fit for you. There is always something wrong with every organization. Don’t focus on it. Instead, you will want to craft answers to why the position you plan to leave had a positive impact on your career development, and tie this into how you are moving towards a new position as another positive step. The key is to showcase that you are a person who seeks personal learning and professional growth, and each career move you make is a part of that process.

When it comes to how you present yourself at an interview, you need to make the case for yourself. Unfortunately, no one is going to pay you more money because you bought a bigger house or because the job you accepted isn’t perfect. However, an employer will pay you more if your expertise is in demand. Try to make the connection between your skills and enthusiasm and the needs of the position you are applying to fill. Explain why this new job presents an even better and exciting opportunity for you, and you will embrace the position with that attitude. If you can articulate this, your interview will come across as positive, and you will be seen as a positive person. You will be transitioning gracefully.

Why is positivity so important? Based on your resume, the interviewer is aware of many of your skills, many of your accomplishments, your employment history, and your education. When they contact you for the interview, they are allowing you to explain why these qualifications are the right fit for the company’s needs. By the time you are sitting face to face, the interviewer is just trying to figure out how you might fit in with the team, what it would be like working with you day to day, and how you respond to stressful situations in the office. When you demonstrate positivity, you assure them that you will effectively make the daily challenges easier to bear, and you will not bring in an attitude that demoralizes the team.

As you consider your next job, embrace a positive outlook. Your job transition is not about leaving a negative situation; it is always about moving positively towards opportunity. If you stick to this perspective in your interview, you will be sending the message that the company should hire you because you will bring that same enthusiasm to your new position.

Are you considering a career transition? Merito Group can help. Check out our current job openings and download our free interviewing preparation guide here.


The Merito Group, recognized as a Top Executive and Professional Recruiting Firm by the Business Journal Newspapers, specializes in data-driven talent acquisition solutions including retained executive search, RPO high volume sourcing, and consulting services.