By Hanne Keiling
Updated May 24, 2022 | Published May 23, 2018
Updated May 24, 2022
Published May 23, 2018
Related: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? 3 Strategies for BEST Answers
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One of the most common questions interviewers ask is, Why do you want to leave your current job? Hiring managers want to know why youre leaving so they can learn more about whats important to you in a job and how you handle undesirable situations.
There are several ways to answer this question, so take time before your interview to prepare a thoughtful answer that will give your interviewer confidence about the decision to hire you. Here are a few examples of how to answer, as well as some tips on choosing the best option for you.
Common reasons for leaving a job
Common reasons for leaving a job include:
- Your values no longer align with the company's mission
- Youd like additional compensation
- The company you worked for went out of business
- You feel undervalued in your current role
- You are looking for a new challenge
- You want a job with better career growth opportunities
- You had to leave due to family or personal reasons
- You dont like the hours at your current job
- You decided to relocate to a new city
- You want to change career paths
- You decided to go back to school
- Your personality didnt align with the company culture
- You found a better opportunity
- You had to leave for health reasons that have since been resolved
- You were laid off or let go
- You wanted to work in a different industry
Read More: How to Explain Employment Gaps in an Interview
How to explain your reasons for leaving a job
Here's some guidance on how to answer the interview question "Why do you want to leave your current job?"
1. Be clear about your reasons for exiting
Take time to write down all the reasons youre looking for a new opportunity. If youre not sure about what they are, consider the following questions to get started:
- What are your values?
- What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in five years? 10 years?
- What are your needs in a workplace environment? What do you need in a job?
- What do you like about your position? What do you dislike?
- What are your relationships like with coworkers? Managers?
- What industry do you want to be in?
- Are you passionate about your companys mission?
- Does your current situation align with these answers? Why or why not?
After youve written your answers down, circle a couple of key reasons you want to give in your interview. You should select reasons that stand out as professional rather than personal. For example, you may be looking for a new job because of a recent life change such as a marriage or movethese are not the reasons you should lead within the interview.
2. Keep your answer short
Though its important to fully answer your interviewers question in explaining why you want to leave your job, keep your response to around one or two sentences. Then, point the conversation back to why youre the best person for the job.
3. Stay positive
Even if negative experiences have informed your decision to leave a job, its extremely important to find a positive way to explain your desire to move on. Employers want to hire problem solvers who can work through difficult situations. Focus on the skills you learned in your current role, good relationships you may have built with your coworkers or positive interactions you had with customers or stakeholders.
For example, instead of, I dont like my manager. Ive tried talking to him, but it looks like I have to find a new job, try something like, In my current role, Ive learned many new skills. Im looking for a position in which I can continue to grow that skill set in new circumstances.
4. Be honest without being too detailed
When answering this question, you dont need to go into all the details. If you find your current job unsatisfying, there is always a way to share that without disparaging your current employer (tips on this below). Keep your answer focused and short, and move the conversation back towards why you are excited about the opportunities ahead of you.
Its important to keep in mind that the company youre interviewing with may contact your previous employer, so what youve told them should be in line with what theyll learn in those conversations. If youre unemployed, be honest about that situation as well. If they get in contact with your previous employer to confirm start dates, salary range or get a reference, this could hurt your chances of getting the offer if youve provided different information.
Read more: Interview Question: "Why Did You Leave Your Last Job" (With Example Answers)
How to frame your reasons for leaving a job
After youve thoughtfully listed out your reasons for leaving a job, the next step is to consider how an interviewer might interpret your answer. Here are a few examples of reasons that might not present well in an interview, and a few alternatives if any of the following are on your list:
"I dont like the company."
There are positives and negatives in every company, including the one youre interviewing for. Take a moment to think about why you dont like the company you work for, and use this to craft a more positive, clear response.
At my current organization, Ive expanded my professional skillset and built great relationships. Recently, it became clear to me that I need motivation from a strong mission while continuing to grow professionally. The mission of your company to serve underrepresented communities is something Im excited to work on.
Ive been working on my communication and collaboration skills when it comes to facilitating large, complex projects. The opportunities to grow that expertise are limited in my current role, so I was excited to learn about this opportunity, where collaboration and transparency are mentioned as important components of the job.
"Id like more pay."
Think carefully about whether this is the reason you want to shareit can be interpreted by interviewers in a number of ways that can be hard to predict. If you decide it needs to be addressed, try framing it in a way that focuses on the larger topic of incentives and your motivation to take on challenging work that comes with big rewards:
Im motivated by a lot of factors, and client satisfaction, as well as peer and manager approval, are at the top of the list. But compensation is also a motivator for me and Im excited about the opportunity to sell a product Im passionate about, exceed my targets and celebrate when Ive surpassed my goals.
Related: How To Negotiate Your Salary (13 Tips With Examples)
"Im bored at work/I dont like the job."
This reason for wanting to leave likely comes from dissatisfaction with the work youre doing in your current role. Often, this means that youre doing work that doesnt fit with your skills and abilities or isnt challenging. Try explaining this with a response based on the skills and opportunities youre seeking:
Ive learned a lot in my current role, but Im looking for an opportunity that provides more challenges as I continue developing my skills and abilities.
While Ive gained important skills in my experience with this role, like communication and time management, I want to focus more on honing my leadership and writing skills. Im excited that this role provides more opportunities to grow those skills.
"I dont like the hours at my job."
If the hours and flexibilityof your next job will play a significant role in your decision to accept an offer, this may be a good detail to share with your interviewer. However, the way you frame this response is crucial. You dont want to come across as someone who isnt willing to work hard. Instead, give an answer that positions you as a responsible and mature professional who knows how to manage your time well:
I know that I do my best work when I have a healthy balance between work and life. The commitments I make to my managers and colleagues mean a lot to me, and I plan my days around following through on those commitments efficiently. Its important to me to work for a company that values my ownership of my schedule and allows for flexibility when appropriate.
Related: How to Quit a Job the Right Way
Good reasons for leaving a job
There are many reasons you can and should explain why youre looking for a new opportunity. As professionals grow in the workplace, there is a natural flow from one job to the next as people seek out new learning opportunities, career development, new environments and other factors. Lets look at a few examples of good reasons youre looking for a new job:
1. Looking for career growth
Depending on how companies are structured, some may provide more opportunities to grow than others. It might also be challenging to change teams or departments if youre looking to grow in a different direction. The desire to move to a new level in your career is a common reason for leaving a job. Heres an example of how someone in this situation might explain why theyre leaving:
I love my role and coworkers, but Ive come to a point where there are no longer growth opportunities on my team. Can you tell me a bit about growth opportunities for this job, and what the company does to develop employee careers?
Related: Why do you want to work here? Tips + Example Answer
Jenn explains what interviewers ask the question Why do you want to work here, strategies for crafting a strong answer plus an example.
2. Desire to change career paths
It is increasingly common for people to explore several different jobs and careers in their lifetime. Whether you want to go back to school, change industries or pivot what youre working on, changing careers is a great example of why you may want a new job:
Im looking for a new opportunity that doesnt exist at my current company where I can develop and expand my account management skills.
Related: 34 Interview Questions About a Change in Career (With Tips and Examples)
3. Identified a better opportunity
Perhaps youre looking to leave your job because you simply have a better choice. Whether that means your work environment will improve, youll get better pay or the companys mission is a better match your values, its reasonable to seek out a new work situation when a better opportunity comes up:
Though Ive learned a lot at my company, from my research about this opportunity, I can see that the position is a better fit for where I want to take my careerspecifically, collaborating with cross-functional teams to develop innovative products for your users.
Related: How to Know When It Is Time to Leave a Job
4. Let go or laid off
This is a reality for many people and can understandably be cause for anxiety when it comes time to explain why youre looking for a job. Take some time to prepare your answer and follow these guidelines:
- Be truthful without going into unnecessary detail
- Avoid using the word fired if you can
- Explain what you learned from the situation
- Direct the interviewer toward why youre a good fit for the position
Here are two examples:
If you were let go:
In retrospect, I understand my former employer and I had different expectations about what success meant in my role. As I reflect on that experience, I realize there are some things I could have done differently. I learned a lot, and Im excited about the opportunity to bring that maturity to my next job. This role is in line with my skills and abilities, and the direction Id like my career to take.
If you were laid off:
Unfortunately I was impacted by a company restructuring that resulted in a loss of 15% of our employees. In the meantime, Ive been thoughtfully considering my next move, reconnecting with my network and researching opportunities. Im excited about this position because it exemplifies the parts of my past work I enjoyed the most and will position me in the direction Ive always wanted to pursue in my career.
These are just a few of many valid reasons you should explore new opportunities. If youre unsure about what your answer may communicate to interviewers, try to get feedback on your reasons from trusted friends or mentors.
Related: 16 Steps To Take After Getting Let Go From Your Job
Preparing for follow-up questions
Depending on the way youve answered the question, your interviewers may have follow-up questions, such as:
- Did you try to pursue this position at your current company?
- How did you try and resolve those issues before deciding to look for a new role?
- How do you plan to prevent miscommunication about expectations in your next role?
Consider these as you complete your answer, and develop a few ideas for what your answer may look like for follow-up questions. Remember: Leaving a job for a new opportunity is very common. It's likely that your interviewer has also left a job so they will be able to understand your position. Be clear on your reasons, plan your response and continue directing the conversation toward why youre the best person for the job.
Related: Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
In this video, Holl, a career coach at Indeed, explains how to best answer the tricky interview question, Why did you leave your last job?