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How to Interview for a Job While You've Still Got One

How to Interview for a Job While You've Still Got One
Searching for a new job while you're still employed can be a tricky situation. / Credit: Classified ad image via Shutterstock

Decades ago, many people found their first full-time job and stayed with the company until retirement. Today, it's not unusual to have worked for two or more different companies by the time you reach age 30. In many cases, this means that workers are interviewing for new positions while they're still employed.

Searching for a new job while you already have one can be a difficult situation to navigate. Depending on why you want to leave your current employer, there's great potential to get yourself into hot water, especially if you don't get the job for which you're interviewing. If you're looking for a job while still employed, check out these four tips from hiring managers, to help you avoid burning any bridges.

Telling your current employer that you're interviewing for a new job is usually career suicide, but if you have an honest, open relationship with your boss or supervisor, being upfront with him or her about your goals may be a good path to choose. [5 Interview Skills That Will Get You Hired]

"Employers hate surprises and would likely appreciate being clued in on the process," said Bill Peppler, managing partner of staffing firm Kavaliro. "This could generate additional conversation about how to keep you happy and secure in your current role."

If you think discussing your plans with the boss would only cause further problems, exercising discretion is key, Peppler said. Don't mention your job search to co-workers, as the information may get back to your supervisor and end up further straining your relationships.

One question that frequently comes up in a job interview is why you want to leave your current employer. This might seem like an opportunity to air your frustrations with your boss to the interviewer, in the hopes that he or she will tell you this company is nothing like that. However, badmouthing your supervisor demonstrates a lack of professionalism, and will probably only hurt your chances of getting the new job.

Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of job-listing site FlexJobs, recommended keeping the discussion honest but reframing negative issues to avoid speaking badly of your employer.

"It's important to talk about why you are leaving, rather than why you feel like they [your employer or boss] are responsible for your leaving," Sutton Fell told Business News Daily. "Maybe you're ready to grow and develop your career in new ways, or you feel you're ready for something fresh. If management is the issue, talk about what your ideal managerial relationship would be, or how you best like to work with your boss to form a solid relationship."

Whether your experience with your current employer has been good or bad thus far, it's important to consider the ways your job has positively impacted your career and helped you grow professionally.

"Talk about the lessons you've learned in your current position and how you would apply those learnings to the new job," said Sandy Mazur, president of staffing firm Spherion. "Even if you've encountered challenges at your job, point out ways you overcame or addressed those hurdles in the interview. Focus on the positive ways your current job has impacted your professional career. This will show the prospective employer that you can find the good in any situation."

If you're desperate to leave your current employer, any new job offer will sound like it's worth taking. But before you make that leap, be sure that you've carefully considered what this new opportunity will mean for you. You can use the interview to learn more about the company, along with its benefits and its culture, to see if joining it is really the best decision for you.

"During your discussions with the prospective employer, try to learn enough so that you can determine what this potential employer has in common with your current one," Mazur said. "You can prepare for this by making a list of the elements you like in your current job prior to the interview. That way, you can ask specific questions and better assess if the company is a good fit."

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.