Many people look for new jobs because they are not satisfied with their current jobs or where they are in their careers — two reasons that can be chipping away at their self-image. Although this lack of satisfaction is implied in the job search, elaborating on it in job interviews must be handled carefully. Not only you may be risking sounding negative and bitter, but you also may be passing an impression — that is not necessarily accurate — that you’re responsible for your current status. Employers don’t look for damaged goods, so you don’t want to present yourself as one.

To make sure that you navigate the questions that deal with this area successfully, you must think ahead of the interview into how far you will indulge into explaining your reasons for looking for a new job, why you’re leaving your current employer and where you see yourself in five years or so in a way that doesn’t blame any unaccomplished success on your skills or capabilities and doesn’t badmouth your employer either.

The previous questions are just examples of when your evaluation to your own accomplishments and success can form the image that your future employers collect regarding your own perception of how well you’ve fared so far in your professional life.

Here are a two main points to keep in mind:

Are you a success story?

Answer honestly. If your answer is, “Yes.” You may already have several points in mind of why you consider your career a success. Connect the dots and form your own elevator speech about the elements that make your professional story an undeniable success.

If your answer is, “No,” you need some help. Going into an interview with negative thoughts about yourself can impact your tone, body language and your responses about yourself. Self-esteem plays a larger role in our interaction with others than we can control. Early preparation can help bring some conscious, positive thoughts into the process, however. Think of particular situations that you’re proud of. Don’t write them off as small or insignificant — even if they seem so. Your focus should be on how you’ve been able to make the best out of your situation. Write down a list of these small accomplishments, and look for how they helped ease or improve your work situation.

The next step is to take a big-picture look at your skills that have helped drive these actions. Labelling these skills appropriately can help communicate them to future employers. For example, have you extended a helping hand to a co-worker during a tough time, which helped this co-worker and kept the workflow uninterrupted? Call this action, “team work” and yourself “a team player who keeps the work best interest in mind while working effectively and collegially with others.” By doing that and looking at your skills and abilities in professional terms, you can go to job interviews with an arsenal of positive thoughts — professionally framed — about yourself.

Why should we hire you?

This is one of the most critical questions in any job interview, and it is an opportunity for you to tell the hiring manager and other interviewers what they should be thinking of you. If you’re negative about yourself, don’t expect them to turn this around into a favourable image. It is important that you can be prepared with what you can bring to the job, which goes well beyond the job description and is driven by your personal skills as well as your experience. So make sure you include your hard work, looking for innovative ways, etc as well as experience and professional skills.

What you shouldn’t include is looking at this job as a potential exit to your current misery or just a better choice to what you have. Always keep a forward-looking, positive attitude in answering these questions, regardless to how bad you feel about your current job or career. If you feel obliged to tell how this potential job is a great improvement to what you’ve, frame it in a way that explains that your passion for the proposed job is likely to energise you to do your best and go well and beyond the call of duty. You can mention specific examples of what you particularly admire about the job.

Remember the more confident and positive you appear — even if you don’t feel the same way — the more likely that your interviewers will pick that up from you and form their own positive image of you. So don’t miss the opportunity to shine.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is now a Seattle-based editor.