How to Nail the Most Important Job Interview Question

Job interviews get under our skin. There's so much that could go wrong, and no way to know which element will be the deciding factor. But if you're tempted to overprepare, save yourself a little stress. Knowing how to answer one particular question will help you a lot more.

The website Simply Hired recently shared data collected from more than 850 U.S. hiring managers. The survey digs deep into gender divides, generational preferences, and how much prep work most interviewees can expect. Yet the vast majority agreed on one thing: How you answer "Why are you looking for another job?" matters.

Lots of job candidates stumble at this point in the conversation, not least because it can be difficult to formulate an answer that doesn't cast you or your most recent employer in a bad light. Whining, bad-mouthing, and bragging can deal fatal blows to a candidacy for hiring managers. Even if it's not entirely true — even if your last boss was terrible or you truly couldn't break through the bureaucracy — try this response instead: "I have a desire to take on more responsibility and grow in a career."

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents wanted interviewees to answer in that vein. It demonstrates discipline, ambition, and self-respect, as well as professionalism. If you can't slot your answer into that formula, take a look at what's not working for you. It's best to examine your rationale for job-hunting long before you're sitting across from a hiring manager. Being able to confidently show that you're ready to level up will serve you way better than stressing yourself out.