You’re about to leave a job you don’t really like, and you’re getting ready to interview for a job at a company you think is head and shoulders above your current company. It’s fine to be excited about the new opportunity, but it’s crucial to tread carefully when the interviewer asks questions that require you to compare your current job to the job you’re hoping to get. Take a moment to think before you answer questions such as, “How is our company better than your present employer?”
When asked this question, a job applicant might tell the interviewer that the company he or she works for is just awful. Maybe he or she talks about how the company treats employees terribly, and he or she hates working there. But what if his or her current company happens to be a big customer of the company where he or she is hoping to land a job? It’s unlikely that a candidate in this situation would be hired – and it doesn’t matter whether he or she is telling the truth or not. With that kind of attitude, there just isn’t any way he or she can have had a positive relationship with the client if he or she hated working for them.
An invitation to differentiate your current employer from your prospective company presents a potential trap, albeit a very tempting one. The interviewer might be testing you to determine if you have a negative attitude or difficulty with authority.
In addition, he or she will also be assessing whether you have done your homework and have realistic expectations for the interviewer’s organization. So, while you don’t want to say bad things about your current employer, you shouldn’t glorify the next one either.
How to Answer Questions About Your Present Employer
One key to answering this question is to make sure you have an accurate view of the hiring managers’ company. You need to know that whatever you see as potentially beneficial actually fits the bill.
Do some research on the company and don’t over-hype the new opportunity with hopes that the interviewer will fall for your gushing enthusiasm. He or she will know if you’re being unrealistic.
Always Keep Your Answer Positive
Another key is to be careful not to mention any negative information about your current company. Keeping it positive makes the most sense in this situation, even if your work experience isn’t, or wasn’t, the best. The safest approach is to frame your current employer in a positive way, and then note how the prospective employer is even more attractive to you.
One way to accomplish this goal is to mention the positive features of the new company which builds upon, but also exceeds, the positive aspects of your current company. For example, you could say:
"As a salesperson, I’m very concerned about how consumers perceive the quality of the products that I sell. My current employer has a solid reputation for quality, but your firm is universally recognized as the industry leader in quality and service. So, I would love to part of your team."
Stick to the Facts and Avoid Any Hype
Sticking to the facts is important, and this means avoiding references to subjective considerations like the quality of management and leadership.
There’s no need to denigrate your current employer or put the potential employer up on a pedestal. Be realistic. For example, you could say:
"I am excited that your company has introduced three new products this past year which have gained traction and garnered increased market share. My current company is in a more stable phase. It produces well-known and respected brands, but has not opened up new markets.”
Make it Professional Not Personal
Your emphasis should be placed on aspects of the company that would enable you to be productive on a professional level. For example, you might say:
"It’s my understanding that you invest considerable resources into training employees to utilize the latest technology."
A statement like that is not emotional, doesn’t say anything bad about your current company, and while it puts the potential employer in a positive light, it’s not ridiculous and overbearing.
What Not to Say When Answering This Question
It’s best to avoid references to features of corporate culture that are personally beneficial. For example, "I find the ability to work from home and your generous vacation policy to be very appealing,” is not a good answer, because it focuses on your needs and not the company itself.
You don't want the hiring manager to think that the only reason you want the job is because of how it personally benefits you. Of course, the potential personal benefits that a new job might offer are important, it’s just not something to bring up during a job interview.
Instead, you’re much better off on focusing on how the new position will benefit you professionally rather than any personal benefits you’ll experience if hired. Then, your best next step is to explain how hiring you will benefit the company.