I think you’ll agree with me when tell you that job hoppers can be hard to spot.

The problem that hiring managers have is that job hoppers are “professional interviewers”, meaning they’re great at acing job interviews by telling you what you want to hear.

In this blog post I’m going to give you my exact strategies for spotting job hoppers.

Job Hoppers Are Sneaky

Through years of trial and error conducting interviews I was able to master the art of catching a job hopper.

It was hard work and frustrating at times, but once I started asking the right questions, I was able to weed out the fake answers of job hoppers easily.

And there’s one reason why job hoppers are so hard to spot…

interview questions for job hoppers

It’s because they go to a lot of job interviews!

They’ve gotten good at making it seem like they are ready to come aboard and be an amazing asset for your company.

Truth is, you’re just going to be the job hopper’s “next paycheck”, until something else grabs their attention and they leave you shorthanded again!

Spotting Job Hoppers is Mega Important

If you are the next victim on the job hoppers list, then it’s going to cost you money!

A report from the Center for American Progress, which studied 11 research papers published over the course of 15 years, found that turnover can cost organizations anywhere from 16% to 213% of the lost employee’s salary.

16% represents the cost of turnover for positions earning less than $30,000 annually.

Higher paid jobs tend to have disproportionately higher turnover costs ranging up to 213% of the replaced employee’s salary!

For example, if a highly-trained employee was making $150,000 annually, the cost for the organization to replace that employee could be as high as $320,000!

job interview questions for job hoppers

It’s pretty obvious that you need to catch job hoppers before it’s too late!

I have used my 15+ years of interviewing experience to put together the complete list of questions for job hoppers.

Now you can you can spot them in the interview, instead of after they leave you high and dry!

Know that You are In Control

The strategy we’re going to use to properly ask the interview questions for the job hoppers is a technique that I came up with called “Established Total Control”.

Established Total Control” is a series of questions designed to put you in the driver seat of the interview.

It’s not to say that they can’t talk, because the opposite is actually true!

You will talk 10% to their 90%! But the series of these 9 questions for job hoppers is designed to make sure that they don’t take you on a ride and lead you all over the place.

YOU are in control and you will establish it clearly.

What you may notice is that the questions aren’t all that different or probing, but rather the order that you ask them in is the importance!

Let’s get into its! Here are my…

9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

Question 1. Where are you working now?

This sets the stage that you are going to ask questions about their employers, and puts you in control for the next question.

As they answer, take mental note of anything that needs a follow up question, and anything that is interesting.

Also be on the lookout for them to start bashing their employer. It may not happen this early, but it’s likely coming!

Question 2. How long have you worked there?

Obviously, this answer will be pretty revealing if they are in fact a job hopper.

If they haven’t been at their current job long, then you ask follow up questions as to why they’re looking for another job so soon (the employer bashing chances greatly increase here).

If they are talking poorly about the employer and they haven’t been there long, chances are getting better that they are a job hopper!

Question 3. Where did you work before that?

Once you have talked a little bit about where they are now, and how long they have been there, you’re going to keep digging going further and further back in time.

There’s a chance that they’re going to get uneasy at this point! Stay calm, be yourself, and just keep asking follow up questions!

Question 4. And what were the dates that you said you worked here? And what are the dates that you started your current job again?

OK, here is where the Established Total Control technique really comes into play.

Clearly, you just talked about their past 2 jobs, but then you go back in and ask for the dates of employment again.

This communicates that you are not going to just breeze over these jobs, and that you want details in your answers.

It also puts you in FULL control!

Pay close attention to see if anything the dates change!

What we’re doing here is looking for a pattern. Short time of employment and very likely large gaps between jobs!

Question 5. Ok, I see, and what was the reason you left your previous job?

You ask this question really quick after they tell you the dates of their last 2 jobs.

You want to be sure they have no time to make any stories up.

If they’re a job hopper, you’ll start to really get them on their heels here as they start to sweat, adjust in their chair, touch their face, etc.

You’re looking for more patterns! They may start to blame management, or the most likely answer is that the jobs didn’t match what the employer described in the interview.

Be thoughtful, and ask any follow up questions where you need clarity…

Then we just keep going!

Question 6. Ok and where were you before Job B?

Now we go even further back in time. We’ve talked about where they work now, we talked about where they worked before that (job B) and now we’re going 3 jobs into the past.

They may try to get the interview back under their control by being extremely passionate about this job.

Don’t take it for face value, but also don’t completely write it off.

Save your follow up questions at this point and go straight to question 7.

Question 7. How long were you there?

More searching for patterns. If they job hop, then they weren’t there long!

Again save your follow up questions…

Question 8. What was the reason you left?

No surprise with this question.

By this time, if they are a job hopper, they’re getting very uneasy. They will sense that you see what is going on, and you will be FULLY in control at this point.

Objective 1 accomplished, you have Established Total Control of the interview!

And now we go in for the killshot!

Question 9. It looks like you have moved jobs quite often…any reason that would be?

Call a spade a spade, but then let them explain!

There is always the off-chance that they moved often for one reason or another.

Or, like a college student that can’t decide what their major is going to be, they can see themselves as successful in one field and then they change their mind.

Click here for PDF version of the 9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

Devils Advocate: It’s not BAD to be a Job Hopper

In the past, I have hired people that were job hoppers, and had them become extremely productive and loyal employees!

The fact of all interviews is this:

The goal is NOT to get a “good” interview.
To goal is to get an ACCURATE interview.

When you know what you have, you can make an informed decision.

If the applicant appears to be a job hopper, but is a great fit for the position, by unearthing the fact that they change jobs a lot, you can then address it simply…

Just tell them you’re concerned that they change jobs a lot and you are looking for a long term employee to invest in.

The realness of that statement will set you up for a more honest conversation. If they open up, and you two can talk, then good!

If they keep feeding you stories and excuses, you know what you need to do…

You know you need to move on to the next candidate!


5 thoughts on “9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

  1. Seems very biased. Some people are unlucky and need to find a job that is stable, and maybe a couple of jobs are not working out for that reason. This is a way to label people instead of considering their past, like a phone screen or interview is meant for. This is psyching interviewers out to project the worst assumptions onto job seekers who sure, could be internationally hopping, but most people do not want to change insurances, go without insurance, and live paycheck to paycheck. I have had 8 jobs in my 32 years and work very hard to fight this stereotype. I didn’t decide what to go for early enough, and when I did, god forbid it was in my late 20s, I received so much of this crap you mention above. I am not a job hopper. I am trying to find what’s right for me. My longest job was 4 years, too. That should prove to anyone that I don’t want to “hop” around. Not everyone is lucky enough to find something immediately that is stable and fits them well. And, when these people find a better opportunity- they take it! Sorry I was bagging groceries for 3 months before I landed a better job, are you really going to scrutinize me for taking it? This is this guy’s opinion, for paranoid interviewers. Most people will be themselves in interviews. I am genuine about my past, and get actually MADE FUN OF in interviews. And I am definitely not alone. Interviewers who are older just don’t understand. Wage weight from the 50s to today also feeds into this problem, if your interviewer is much older than you… she or he will not understand that you could even live paycheck to paycheck. Of course you are going to strive, and try to get a better job. Unbelievable. Great article.

  2. I could not see a reason why you have to invite someone for an interview and just give that person a hard time.

    1. I ended up sending a MUCH different message than I intended with this article, and by no means was I trying to send a negative connotation. It was meant to help interviewers catch the small percentage of applicants that can BS their way through interviews. Thanks for reading though!

  3. As a hiring manager hiring for a technical role, there is a significant 6-12 month time and resource investment that goes into ramping up a new team member. And ideally we want to hire someone who will be successful and feel fulfilled in their role, not just see the role as a paycheck. I think that we can mostly spot job-hopping on a resume but sometimes choose to move forward with the interview process anyway because the candidate has very specific experience we are looking for. Nick, not sure that other commenters are hiring managers (who your article was geared toward), but I found value in your article. The intent of your article came through to me, which is to ask questions to encourage an honest conversation on both sides. There can always be ‘non-negative’ reasons for job-hopping (layoff-prone career fields, temporary job to make ends meet, etc.), but the interview should include an honest conversation to determine if the job is the right fit for BOTH parties.

    1. Thank you so much!!! The article was written to the exact point you took from it, however the responses have been OVERWHELMINGLY negative. My fault for the article coming across improperly, but you and I are on the same page so again, thank you so much for the positive feedback 😁

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