If you’re leaving your job, it’s likely to be because you’ve stopped enjoying the work, or that your job doesn’t offer you the future opportunities you want. Money may be a factor and as a headhunter I don’t have a problem hearing this. Money has many problems but at least it’s relatively simple as a motivation, and can be easier to resolve than personality issues.
Sometimes, however, we hear from a candidate that he wants out because his current boss is a shambling moron whose personality is an unstable mix of dishonesty and ignorance barely held together by malicious greed.
Such bosses are often portrayed as having a spiteful management style which draws upon both forms of Marxism, from both Groucho and Karl. They can recite “The Art of War” from memory and frequently quote from it at meetings (in the original Chinese ). Unless the candidate quits, said boss will settle their dispute with knives.
There are variations: the IT at your department looks like it’s run by EDS, management are in league with Al Qaeda, HR has been outsourced to Resource Solutions, and compliance has been infiltrated by rogue elements of a management consultancy firm.
Why the crazy boss card is best not played
At P&D we like to hear the truth about how you see your current role and how it’s developing and an honest summary of your reasons for leaving. This means it’s fine to share with us your views on the personalities involved and how things could be better.
However, knocking your current firm – and your current boss – too much, will prove counterproductive. The big risk is that your possible future boss will see the common factor in all your problems as yourself.
The appropriate attitude is instead, to see the fact that you are leaving as a way of putting past problems behind you. Try to focus on the good parts (this may be hard), but a positive attitude at interview is at least as important as your apparent competence.
Dominic Connor is a quant headunter with P&D.