in Careers Advice, Interviews

Interview Question 37 – Did you feel you progressed satisfactorily in your last job?


This is a loaded question, if you say anything negative about a former employer it immediately makes the interviewer think you are likely to consider them in a similar fashion in a few years’ time. If however your application to the firm has been on the basis that there has been a lack of progression in your current firm and therefore you are happy to look at alternatives you will need to get this over to the firm and make them understand that this is the reason you are looking to move. Remember that at all times in an interview you need to be positive. You can be positive and at the same time make comments that could be classed as either a criticism or an admission of weakness, provided it is dressed up correctly. For example you are answering this question to say that you are looking for a move because there was a lack of progression in your firm job, you could dress this up by explaining that your current employer has a lack of opportunities at the level you are looking to get into because there are a number of long service employees in those roles who do not anticipate leaving or retiring for some time and therefore your options are limited. At the same time you could explain to the interviewer that your current employer has been very supportive and tried to give you encouragement and progress new responsibilities wherever possible, but the opportunity is simply not there. Try to avoid making any comments about poor management or colleagues who are in jobs you feel you ought to have. This is indicative of somebody who is likely to have an awkward personality or who is going to be scheming and trying to get rid of colleagues through their actions.

Examples of Answers

“I am very happy with my existing firm. They have been very supportive throughout my time there, provided me with any training I have asked for and given me all the encouragement to expand my knowledge and skill base. Unfortunately there is no opportunity to progress within the firm because the next stage up has long term employees in the roles who do not expect to be moving within the next ten to fifteen years. It is perhaps an example of why I enjoy working at the firm because the workplace is a positive and happy one as well as productive, and people stay a very long term there. My current firm know that I am looking to progress my career and have given me every encouragement in my training to ensure that I am able to do this when the time is right, either with them or with an alternative firm. They have already offered me an outstanding reference if I did decide to leave.”

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at