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I've been asked this question at basically every interview. I usually say looking for growth opportunities (basically want higher salary), but it doesn't seem like the interviewer really likes that answer. One guy asked me

And you can't get growth opportunities at your current position?

Is this a good answer to this question or should I just go with another answer like I want to work for a company in (the interviewing company's sector) or something like that?

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    This follow-up question is a good opportunity to discuss exactly what you are looking for, but instead you are reading it to be some sort of disappointing statement by the person interviewing you. May 8, 2023 at 7:19
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    You are not in fact looking for growth opportinities, you are looking for more money. Is there a specific reason why you feel the need to make something up? I don't think another lie you cannot sell is going to help you here.
    – nvoigt
    May 8, 2023 at 7:29
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    @nvoigt Why do you think that is lying? Is growth not related to salary growth? If you think your old boss is shit are you also going to say that?
    – pi a
    May 8, 2023 at 8:16
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    Maybe it's just me, but if someone said they were interested in "growth opportunities" but were only interested in the money, I'd be disappointed in them as a candidate. Getting more money is a perfectly good reason to want to change jobs, but if someone told me they want to grow, I'm expecting someone who's going to be ambitious, trying new stuff looking for new skills, etc, not just someone wanting a bigger pay cheque. May 8, 2023 at 10:58
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    I don't disagree that honesty is good and trying to sell a lie you can't believe yourself is bad. But does everyone really think that if you go into an interview and say "I want more money than I am currently getting," it won't lose you opportunities? I know among my fellow interviewers at my current employer, that answer wouldn't help and might hurt. (a similarly can't-help answer I've head a lot is they like the location of our office)
    – stannius
    May 8, 2023 at 15:20

10 Answers 10

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When someone says they are looking for growth opportunities, that normally means they want to grow professionally, do something they cannot do at their old company. Maybe work with a different technology, explore a different skill set, or lead more people.

Simply getting more money for the same job is a good reason to change employers, but it is not "looking for growth opportunities".

This is why you cannot organically answer the interviewers question. You would have an easy answer to the question if you actually were looking for growth opportunities.

The reason the interviewer asks is because if you are looking for those opportunities and they cannot offer them, you are going to leave their company, too. So they want to make sure they can offer the "growth opportunities" you claim to seek.

And now you are in a pickle, because you don't. And you don't know what to answer. As an interviewer, I face multiple problems at this point. Either you are truthful, but completely unprepared and shy. Or you are not truthful and wanted to cover that up with generic answers and got caught at my first real question about it. Either way, I cannot satisfy the need you claimed you have ("growth opportunities") because you cannot tell me what specifically you are looking for or what problems you faced getting it before. So employing you would mean you are either a random flight risk because I cannot provide "growth opportunities" you weren't able to describe yourself, or you are a risk because I don't know your motivations at all.

There is no shame in wanting to be paid better. If that is your motivation for changing jobs, just say so. Being clear and natural about your motivation is way better than coming across as slightly protective, shallow and generic.

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    I agree with everything you wrote but its worth noting that the OP could still seem like a flight risk depending on the duration of their current job ("Only 2 years at that role and they're hopping job for a pay bump; should we assume they'll do the same in another year or two?")
    – simonc
    May 8, 2023 at 8:57
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    But at least it's the correct one. If the OP says "I want to be paid market rate" and I know down the road we won't, then maybe it's for the best that they don't start at that company.
    – nvoigt
    May 8, 2023 at 9:00
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    @simonc Everyone you poach from another company is a possible flight risk. If they are willing to switch to you to find greener pastures, they will potentially switch to someone else for even greener ones. The risk is smaller if you hire people who applied because they must find a job (unemployed people or people straight out of education) but it's still there.
    – Philipp
    May 8, 2023 at 14:38
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    Valuable answer because it shows that the exchange has 2 sides, the employer also wants to get something out of it. OP would do well to approach the interview not as a hurdle to be passed with memorized stock answers from the internet, but as a discussion on how both parties will gain (sufficiently) when a contract is made - and thus sell their offer appropriately.
    – frIT
    May 9, 2023 at 13:16
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    To add to this, if you actually want "growth opportunities", you still shouldn't say just "growth opportunities" as an answer. Directly tell them how you want to grow and how this relates to both your current employer as well as the company you're interviewing for.
    – NotThatGuy
    May 9, 2023 at 20:03
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It may be a little vague, and sound a bit like a "stock answer" to the question. It doesn't actually give any information. The interviewer might be looking for more details, i.e. in what way would you like to grow.

So...

And you can't get growth opportunities at your current position?

...may be a request to clarify what you mean by this and why changing positions is a good option for you.

In other words, he's trying to find out why you're leaving your current position!

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    This was my first reaction. "growth opportunities" is a reasonable answer, but you need to be ready to say what those are. Training? Chance of promotion? Opportunity to experience working for different teams? A different sector? etc..
    – JDL
    May 8, 2023 at 20:20
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In most cases the best answer is simply the truth (properly worded that is).

In addition to what you say, it also matters HOW you say it. Most interviewers are allergic to obvious "cookie cutter" answers. They are often perceived as lazy or evasive.

And you can't get growth opportunities at your current position?

That's a clear sign that your interviewer wanted a real answer and is calling bs.

Is this a good answer to this question

It certainly can be, but ONLY of its actually true and customized to your specific situation. Describe your current situation, what works and what doesn't, what you have you tried to address it and what led to your decision to leave. Could be growth, promotion, compensation, bad work environment, cultural differences, family reasons, etc. All of these are good reason as long as they are actually true and a little thinking as put into them.

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    More importantly, explain why the position you are applying for will get you what you are looking for. Why do you think this position will be a good growth opportunity? Interviewers aren't nearly as interested in where you're coming from as they are in how you will fit into the position they are trying to fill.
    – Seth R
    May 8, 2023 at 19:47
  • Truth and honesty are good. However, certain details about the real reason one wants to leave a position (e..g. not liking the boss, the unpaid overtime, etc.) will not get one far in an interview, so focusing on the positive correlation between the applicant (i.e., oneself) and the job being applied for is the crucial point. 'More money' is a fine answer, as I've commented elsewhere on this question's page. May 9, 2023 at 15:24
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It's a tricky one - and it depends very much on your sector of work.

For example, if you are going from a small-ish IT provider to a larger Corporate IT Environment - then when the Interviewer asks about why you can't get growth opportunities at your current position - you could answer that the size of the company and their target market limits the exposure you can get to certain technologies and solutions at scale.

Some companies also don't have much opportunity for advancement past a certain point (For example, it might be the Owner and their Children that occupy all the top spots)

All of these are perfectly acceptable retorts to when you are challenged on this point.

However - all of this, I feel is beating around the bush - you've indicated that you are changing jobs because you want more $$$ which is perfectly acceptable.

So, you could go with the honest truth "My current employer doesn't have the budget for a market-rate salary" but people tend to get squeamish about this.

Which is where we get into the realm of 'Stock answers to Stock questions'

"I want new challenges" "Growth opportunity" "Looking for better Work/Life balance"

You know - any of the generic answers - what matters IMO is how you follow it up, what context you add.

So for example - I'm a Microsoft Man, I've got a few Azure certs, if my company decided that it was going to go fully into AWS, I might use this as a reason:

"My interest and skillset is in MS Azure and I want to develop it further, however my current employer has indicated a preference for AWS, which I'm not as enthused at learning. I understand this opportunity is primarily for an Azure Administrator, which is why I applied"

I've taken that from a 'Stock Answer' to an answer that gives the interviewer an insight into what actually drives me (without saying 'Mo Money')

Putting all of this together - It's a bit of a stock answer, but if you take a couple of moments to add some additional context (and it helps if you do it without prompting) then it takes it from a 'meh' answer, to a good answer.

e.g. "The main reason is I'm looking for Growth opportunities. My current employer does XYZ and that means I'm limited to ABC - and I want to be getting exposure to PDQ"

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Generally, I'd advise one of the following:

If you're moving into a more senior role:

"I'm looking to take on more responsibilities, but there's little opportunity for progression at my current company"

If you're moving laterally:

"I feel I've learned all that I can in my current role so I'm looking for something different so that I can continue my professional development".

If you're moving downwards:

"I enjoy my current role, but I'm looking for one that offers a less stressful environment so that I can have a better work:life balance."

Or:

"I feel I've spent enough time in my current industry and am looking for a change. I understand that the domain-knowledge deficit that I will have by virtue of changing industries means that I'll have to temporarily take a step back on the career ladder, but I'll work hard to catch up and get up to speed quickly."

Those should satisfy any interviewer: they sound plausible, don't have any red flags, and aren't one of the totally canned responses because you provide a bit of justification.

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  • +1 for providing an example in case of moving downwards. Those are rare!
    – breversa
    May 10, 2023 at 14:12
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    @breversa - It's something I've thought about because I'm considering changing industries myself in a few years and I'll likely have to drop from technical leadership to mid level (if I'm lucky) May 10, 2023 at 16:48
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Based on your question and the context you provided "Growth opportunities" is probably not a good way to answer since it is a little deceptive at best and frankly its a BS non-answer.

A better answer would be an honest answer that also doesn't make it look you are just grubbing for more money. Something like...

I am looking to be fairly compensated based on my skills and experience. That is not possible in my current position at my current employer.

This has the added benefit of showing confidence in your skill and abilities, while positioning yourself as a valuable and skilled employee that can possibly be hired at a price that is lower than might be expected. It helps to frame a context around any later salary negotiations that is beneficial to you.

You can go even further, without throwing shade on your old employer by following up with something like...

I've learned a lot of new things there I've enjoyed my time there and the people I work with but within the finances and structure of the company it's not possible for me to grow and advance any further with that company.

This shows that you are attuned to the company as a whole, not just your position, that you are eager to learn and accept new responsibilities, that you are likely pleasant to work with and are unlikely to badmouth any future employer when you eventually leave.

Remember, any future employer is also your next previous employer.

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The thing is that for many organisations nowadays there are 0 growth opportunities and people often leave for that exact reason, I have worked for an organisation with a set structure with no clear growth path/opportunities. Be honest, if you are leaving purely on the basis of growth and then you have no reason not to be.

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Is "growth opportunity" a good answer for why are you leaving job?

Assuming that is not a direct quote and you actually worded it well, yeah it's fine as long as you present the overall vibe of being a driven individual who seeks improvement.

I can't speak to the quality of your wording but the content is perfectly fine, if a bit cliché.


Providing you some insight from the other side of the table:

And you can't get growth opportunities at your current position?

What is being asked here is whether you at least attempted to pursue growth opportunities at your current employer. If you did not, that means that you are a flighty individual and it makes you more likely to leave your employer, which matters to your prospective new employer.

If, however, you state that you have attempted to find growth with your current employer and came up empty, that's makes me (as the interviewer) more confident that you won't just up and leave at the first opportunity.

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Sometimes the interviewer wants to understand what are your plans with them without asking directly.

Going after growth opportunity can be seen as a good aspect of your personality, meaning that you are ambitious, but it can also be seen as a short term commitment. While the question sounds only about you, the answer should also convey to the interviewer a feeling of what's in it for them with your ambition.

Answering that question in a way that makes your ambition fit into the picture of the company for which you are interviewing will sound stronger, because what the company will invest in you will return later for them and won't go to benefit another company/competitor. As an example, you can say that you have ambition of growing into a senior role and you have seen that the company has several career paths available, or you can use the answer as a way to ask to the interview what the company offers in terms of employees growth.

There are companies which do not have a problem with a high employees turnover, while others are less willing to pay you to learn the job and then jump ship when you have just started being productive.

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If the follow up question is:

"And you can't get growth opportunities at your current position?"

Then the answer is:

"Unfortunately, no. I tried making it work to my best, but it seems that I may exercise my aspirations somewhere else, and <enter the company you're interviewing with now> appears to match with my vision and progress plan."

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    While a very good generic answer, it also sounds exactly like a very generic answer from a book or help forum. Personally, I would not be convinced by people who cannot come up with their own organic talking points and have to resort to phrases during an interview.
    – nvoigt
    May 8, 2023 at 8:37
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    Easy further question : "So tell me about your aspirations and what it is about our company that matches those." May 9, 2023 at 12:33
  • Isn't that answer just a more elaborate way to say the word "no"?
    – Sneftel
    May 11, 2023 at 16:06

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