When a hiring manager interviews someone, they’re looking at a lot of different aspects of that person’s candidacy. They obviously want to find out if the candidate can do the job they’re interviewing for: do they have relevant experience and a proven track record of successful projects? Culture fit, management skills, and teachability are also important factors to consider. But one of any hiring manager’s top considerations is the candidate’s motivation for and commitment to making a career change.
Hiring a new employee is an investment for a company, and managers want to know that they’re choosing someone who will not only accept the job offer but also be willing to stay on board long term and grow with the company. This starts with understanding why the candidate is considering a new career opportunity. Here are three motivating factors that hiring managers consider “green flags” when assessing a candidate during the interview process.
A candidate might work for a great company. They could get along with their manager, enjoy the projects they work on, and earn a competitive salary. But especially for early- and mid-career professionals, long-term career planning is often a priority, and if the candidate’s current company doesn’t offer any room for career growth, that can be a major motivating factor to consider other opportunities.
These candidates probably won’t have complaints about their current roles and might even express disappointment about the idea of leaving behind a great job. However, they will understand that their career trajectories will be better served by going to work for a company with room to grow into more senior positions over time. This type of motivation is a great sign to hiring managers because it indicates that the candidate is thinking ahead and wants to land with a company where they can make a difference and build a future.
There’s a saying in the recruiting industry: a candidate’s spouse gets 51% of the vote when it comes to career decisions. Sometimes a candidate’s family situation changes and requires them to consider new career opportunities, even if they’re relatively content with their current company. For example, a candidate might need to relocate to help take care of aging parents. Or conversely, they might need to find a role that requires less travel so they can be at home more often as they put down roots and start a family.
Hiring managers like to hear that candidates are motivated by family factors because it means they are less likely to make spontaneous decisions or change their minds. They have put a lot of thought into their needs and the needs of their loved ones, discussed the options at length, and decided on a course that meets their long-term needs. For hiring managers, that translates to a candidate who is committed to making the change that can best serve their families and choosing a company where they can be stable and provide for their loved ones.
Some candidates dream of living in a specific location. For example, they might be looking for a location close to their extended families, a great school district for their kids, or an up-and-coming community with a great cost of living. Whatever their dream is, if an opportunity becomes available in that market, those candidates are going to be motivated to pursue it, no matter what their current employment situation is.
For most candidates, relocation is not a frivolous decision. It requires a lot of thought and planning, so when a candidate pursues an opportunity in a specific market, it’s a “green flag” for hiring managers because it demonstrates that the candidate has long-term plans to build a life and career within that market.
It’s important to note that none of these three “green flags” has anything to do with salary. A candidate who is making a move strictly for money is actually a “red flag” for companies, because it doesn’t suggest that they’re going to commit to their new company for the long term. Instead, hiring managers worry that no matter how great the job opportunity is, the candidate might jump ship at the first sign of a higher salary from a competitor.
On the other hand, candidates who pursue a career change because they want opportunities for growth, their family situations necessitate a change, or the opportunity is in their dream market location demonstrate to hiring managers that they are motivated by long-term considerations and will likely invest in the right company for years to come.