If you’re a job hopper, the interview question, "Why have you changed jobs so frequently?" may require a strategic response.
Before we get there, let's discuss the obvious question ...
What Is Job-Hopping?
Job-hopping is loosely defined as changing jobs more often than every two years. The idea of job-hopping is not as bad now as it was 20 years ago.
So, there is hope as you respond to this interview question.
Still, answering, "Why have you changed jobs so frequently?" might require some preparation on your part.
You might already assume that job-hopping is on the increase.
Indeed, it is, with the majority of millennials believing that changing jobs can help to benefit their career.1
This doesn't make the question any easier to answer in an interview, however.
Loyalty is still very important to employers even if you have not yet found the right “fit.”
- You need to convince a hiring manager that you can commit to their company.
- You can use job-hopping to your advantage while in the interview process.
Possible Reasons for Frequent Job Changes
In our current economic climate, job-hopping has grown more typical.
Here are some common reasons a person might change jobs after a short time:
- Department-wide or company-wide layoffs
- Company restructuring, causing your position to become obsolete
- The offer of a better position in another company
- Venturing out to start your own business
- Facing a personal health problem
- Dealing with a time-consuming family situation
Some of the above reasons would clearly be outside of your control (1, 2, 5, & 6) whereas others fall into the realm of personal decisions (3 & 4).
Whether your decision to frequently change jobs is due to unforeseeable circumstances or your own choices, here's what you can (and should!) do:
Focus on the positive aspects of job-hopping in your response.
By following the below guidelines, you can answer this interview question with confidence.
Highlight Reasons Outside of Your Control
First of all, if you have been laid off, this is not technically job-hopping.
Job hopping is quitting positions voluntarily to pursue other options.
The problem with frequent voluntary job-switching is this:
- Many people chase a similar opportunity with a different company.
- This means they do not advance in either company.
This is a red flag to a hiring manager.
It can demonstrate a lack of satisfaction with any position you hold.
This is why, regardless of what you have done in the past, you should build your response around factors you could not control.
Now, we are not saying to lie.
Work situations have many factors outside your control that can affect you.
Focus your response on these factors.
This is assuming that you have held each job for more than a couple of months.
If you have changed jobs more frequently than that, you might have some explaining to do!
(For more interview questions, check out our article on the 50 Top Interview Questions And Answers.)
Show Growth in Each Position
As you change jobs and gain experience, your responsibilities will grow as well.
At least, ideally!
If you cannot show that your skills have developed with each job, this interview question will be difficult to answer.
Talk about ways each position has caused growth and expanded your skills.
- Try and relate specifics from each of your job titles.
- Use these examples to reiterate why you are the perfect fit for the position.
Tips for recent graduates
If you are a new grad, job-hopping can mean you are looking for the right fit.
The problem is, as a recent graduate, you have no way of knowing for certain that the company you are applying for is the right fit for you.
But you can still respond confidently by stating that you are seeking a place to use your education and skills on a long-term basis.
If this opportunity does suit you well, you must be convincing as to why.
- Also, if you find that you are constantly changing jobs, you should question your career path at some point.
- Ask yourself if the direction you are heading in is the right one for you.
Realize That It's Not Over
If you are a chronic job-hopper, there is still hope!
When the hiring manager asks you, "Why have you changed jobs so frequently?" take a positive approach in your response.
- Make note of your advantage in seeing multiple company cultures and operating styles.
- This experience can be helpful in a newer company
- It can also assist a company looking for a facelift.
- Use the opportunity to change a negative on your resume into a positive for the company!
As you structure your answer, use the checklist below to assist you.
1. Do not show that you repeatedly left a similar position
One example would be quitting one executive assistant position for another ... and then another ... and another.
- If this is the case, try changing the job titles.
- Include varying responsibilities for similar positions.
2. Show advancement with each job change
Include any additional responsibilities gained from company to company.
- Consider all the skills you have acquired.
- Relate them to the requirements of the position you are applying for.
3. Explain realistic reasons for leaving
Have a story to back them up!
- The hiring manager will likely explore deeper.
- So, be prepared to go into detail.
- Lying will hurt your chances further, so don’t stray from the truth.
4. Show future dedication
Verbalize that you are looking for the opportunity to put down your roots and commit long-term.
- Explain why you hope this position is the end of your job-seeking endeavors.
- Prove to the hiring manager you're not planning to jump ship next month.
Now, if you find that jobs in the industry you're pursuing never seem to be the right fit, consider a possible industry change.
- Perhaps you've been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
- If this is the case, you might need to broaden your search field.
Now that you have the keys to answering this tough question, work to build a positive and confident response.
Show that you understand your lack of commitment in the past.
This will show growth and maturity in your professional career.
Good luck as you continue on the path to finding your ideal career!
If you need some extra help finding the right career, check out our career discovery services.
Once you know what path to take and would like assistance with the tasks of your job search, Find My Profession also offers a Career Finder service that is focused on helping you find your dream job.