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I am a software developer and I have a job with which I am quite happy. However its not perfect, and there are things which I wish were different, such as a shorter commute. Recently I have had a company want to interview me, which is local to where I live, everything else about the job appears similar on paper. I have already mentioned to the recruiter than I am not really actively seeking to leave my current job but I would be willing to attend the interview.

So my question is, how do I attend the interview and not appear uninterested? How do I convincingly reply to the question of why I want to leave my current role? I do not expect to get away with, "erm.. I do not really but I just wanted to speak with you to see if your company could be a better fit" or "I want to have a shorter commute".

I feel this could put the new company off. Other reasons include slightly newer tech, greenfield projects, and mobile development in addition to web, which I like. But again, none of these are critical to me.

Edit: I am getting some comments along the lines of "don't go if you are not interested". So to clarify, I am interested, thats why I am going, but there are levels of interest. My interest is to find out if the company is similar to where I currently work, can offer me the same benefits and also is a shorter commute. But I am not interested in the way someone who does not have a job is.

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    To quote the great David Mitchell "I think you mean uninterested. All good policemen are disinterested." – DRF Mar 29 '17 at 13:16
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    I think "content" and "comfortable" are great words to use in a situation like this. Saying you are content and/or comfortable with your situation is expressing things positively but also says you are open to being happy (if happy > content) and challenged. You can shore that up by saying you're not looking to get away from your current role, but the right post is something you'd be happy to go to. I'd only mention the commute as an aside, if at all. – Grimm The Opiner Mar 29 '17 at 14:09
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    It is important to make certain that they believe you are interested, regardless of how you actually feel. I was recently denied a second round interview because the interviewer thought I was not interested in the position. It's true, I wasn't interested, but I hadn't realized how easy that was for the interviewer to pick up on, and I would have liked to go further regardless as I was attempting to discover my market value. – BinaryTox1n Mar 29 '17 at 16:32
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    If you're not interested, don't go. You're just wasting the interviewer's time. They've got better things to do. – Roger Lipscombe Mar 29 '17 at 17:48
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    Don't go unless you are interested, what would the point be? – copper.hat Mar 30 '17 at 17:19
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Both of those reasons are valid, but your phrasing needs to be a lot more positive in tone. Try something like:

I really enjoy my current role, but I think that there are more opportunities for me here, and the shorter commute is a huge plus.

This, I think, is technically correct, doesn't trash your current job, appears keen and still gives you an out if it's not the right fit.

  • Depending on the technology or what language/skills/etc. you are using at your current job are fine but you think that long term you would prefer to be doing what they're using. If its applicable that is. – mkingsbu Mar 29 '17 at 15:33
  • I'd add - take what seems "nice" and make it "great". Instead of "mobile development, seems nice but not critical" go for this approach: "There are many exciting technologies in this job I'd be happy to explore, there are many professional challenges for me here" – RanST Mar 30 '17 at 6:30
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    Good Lord - I felt more positive and energetic just READING that sentence. – Omegacron Mar 30 '17 at 21:15
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    This also hits the important point that if a company wants you and knows you don't need them, they have incentive to make you a better offer. If they know you're desperate to leave your existing job, it weakens your hand in any negotiations. – mightypile Mar 31 '17 at 14:40
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Be positive, but realistic.

There's nothing wrong with saying location is your primary reason for being interested. Commute times make a big difference in your life. Providing a real reason based on personal circumstances actually helps if they otherwise might wonder "Hmmm...I wonder why they are changing jobs at the same level? Is something going wrong?"

You ought to mention any positive aspects of the job you can and show that you are interested in the work, but there is no need to feign over the top excitement. Fake enthusiasm rarely seems genuine, and that's especially true if they see from your resume that your current position is quite similar.

Make the similarity of your current work a strength, not a weakness. This means you are a great fit for the position.

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    +1. At my last job, one dev was very upfront that one thing she liked about the job is that it was a short ways up the road from her house. Her interviewer saw this as a plus, and indeed it turned out to be; she was an expert in exactly the things we needed, and could likely have gotten a "better" job elsewhere had she wanted, but the location was a huge perk that the company offered her without even intending to. :-) – ruakh Mar 29 '17 at 18:10
  • Indeed a short commute is really important, and I've been asked by potential employers about it because it really matters. An employer cannot expect his employees to suffer long commutes every day for years... – Shautieh Mar 30 '17 at 5:32
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    This is also important to mention, because it's always possible that the company plans on changing locations soon. It'd suck to get hired and then discover three months later that the company is moving much further away. – Bobson Mar 30 '17 at 11:02
  • @Bobson, his current company could do that as well or close entirely. You never know what is going to happen in the future. I had a coworker who took a new job 4 days before they announced a layoff of 700 positions out of 900 including hers. Her immediate boss had no idea that was coming or he wouldn't have hired. – HLGEM Mar 30 '17 at 20:24
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    @HLGEM That's true, but if you don't mention it then they won't know to tell you if they do know. It's certainly no guarantee, but it's better to mention than not. – Bobson Mar 30 '17 at 20:33
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I would say, Say what you were going to say! (Though perhaps not the same way!) Honest and above board is almost always the best way to go. Honestly say that you would prefer to live closer to your job and that you believe their company may be a better fit for you personally. Something along the lines of,

Employer:

So why do you want to leave your current job?

You:

I'm actually relatively happy with the work at my current company, but I would prefer to have a shorter commute to work. I also think that your company might be a better fit for my [personality, skill-set, interests, etc.]

Bear in mind that employers are not always looking for the most dissatisfied workers on the job force. Being content in your current job is not necessarily a "con" to getting the job.

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Not being unhappy with your job doesn't mean you are uninterested in theirs. Most companies prefer someone who is already a stable, employed employee for some other company, because then they don't have to be as worried about the candidate being on the market due to deficiencies. Recruiters consider the "passive, employed applicant" to be their favorite brand of candidate, for the most part.

So, "Why do you want to leave your current position?"

The answer could very well be "I don't, necessarily. I'm pretty happy with my current position, and have nothing bad to say about my current employer. However, I am open to the idea of a better opportunity or situation, and your company/position seems to fit that description."

So, instead of a message that communicates - "I'm interested in you because I'm dying where I'm at and want to leave," you're telling them "I have a great job with a great company, and, since I'm interested in talking to you about your position, it seems like you could be even better."

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    I completely agree. "I'm happy where I am but think I could be happier with you" sounds so much better than "I hate where I am and I'll take anything to get out of it"! – AndyT Mar 30 '17 at 10:47
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Sounds like you would only take this other job if it has all (most) of the pros of your current one, and none (few) of the cons. Fair enough.

You could put it exactly like that, then explain why you mostly really like your job, and then give the few things that you don't like. I think this won't go over very well, the interviewer might get confused and assume you basically like your job and don't want to leave.

Instead don't talk too much about your current job and focus on expectations. There are nice things about your current job that you like and don't want to give up. Okay, make a list of these. Say, 5 that are most important to you, or whatever number you think.

There are things that are not so nice, like the commute, that you want to escape. Okay, make a list of these also.

Combine both lists. That's your list of things to ask the interviewer about. When asking, disregard whether your current job satisfies each point - simply ask it as a desired feature of your potential new job offer. Then your situation is like any normal job-seeker with a list of things they want from their job, and a list of skills and abilities they can contribute in return. Sounding sufficiently interested shouldn't be a big problem.

After the interview is over you can decide based on what they say. If you like their answer to all of them, the job is clearly better than your old one. If the answer to all are bad, it's clearly worse. If only some are good, then fill out your checklist for the current job also, compare, see which one sounds better to you.

  • I think this will be my eventual approach if I get offered. – sprocket12 Mar 30 '17 at 19:37
  • Kind of a job interview for the job interview... – user60393 Mar 31 '17 at 7:20

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