Dear Evil HR Lady:
I have a question. I am currently looking for work and have been on a handful of interviews. I have been asked a couple of times if I am currently working which I am not. What is the purpose of this question? I can speculate, but I am just wondering from an hr perspective what is behind it.
Love the site btw.
I can only speculate and tell you why I ask the question and what I am looking for. If the answer to, “Are you currently employed?” is no, I’ll follow up with, “Why did you leave your last job?” If the answer is yes, I’ll follow up with, “Why are you looking to leave your current job?”
Essentially, I’m looking to see what your issues are and what your motivation is to be looking for a job. I personally am very cautious about hiring someone who voluntarily left a job without another one lined up–unless there is a good reason. Was it to increase your education? Great. Was it to stay home with your young children? Great. Was it to travel Europe for a summer? I am so jealous, but I wonder how long you are going to stay with me before taking off again. I recommend the “once in a life time” response in conjunction with that trip.
But, if it’s “my manager was a jerk” I’m very nervous. This may be true, but I will not be inclined to offer you employment. And keep in mind this is a very small world and your jerk manager could be my college roommate. (Not likely, by the way, as my college roomates don’t live anywhere near me, but you understand the principle involved here.)
For the record, I’ve had so much experience laying people off that someone who was laid off from their last job doesn’t even make me bat an eyelash.
People who have quit multiple jobs without new ones make me very nervous. People who currently have jobs but have been in them for less than 2 years make me nervous. People who were fired for cause make me very nervous.
It’s not a secret code question. It tells me a lot about you. So, out of curiousity, why aren’t you currently working?
Evil HR Lady