Common interview questions: Why do you want to leave your current job?

Common interview questions: Why do you want to leave your current job?

Common interview question: Why do you want to leave your current job?

Other ways the question may be asked: Why are you looking for a new opportunity? or Why did you leave your last job? (if currently unemployed)

Why they’re asking: They want to make sure the reasons behind why you’re leaving (or have left) your most recent job, won’t reappear in the new job.

Why it’s a tricky one: Generally the honest reason can be really negative (not what you’re going for during an interview).

How to answer this common question: Give the honest reason (in the least negative way possible) + refocus the answer on what the future employer can give to you (vs. what you’re not getting) + stay diplomatic!

  • Give the honest reason (in the least negative way possible)
    • So if we’re being real, the true reason you are looking to leave your current or last job is probably because you think it’s terrible, hate your boss, or can’t stand making 20 more copies (am I close?) but you can’t say that in an interview, ever.  However, every negative reason for wanting to leave a job can be spun in a way that is positive (but still honest). For example, if your current work is painfully boring you could say “I’m looking for a new and exciting challenge”.  If you hate your boss you can say “I really want to work for someone I can learn from and someone who can mentor me.”
  • Refocus the answer on what the future employer can give to you (vs. what you’re not getting)
    • Another way to stop the negativity from coming through is to refocus your answer on what the future employer can give you (versus talking about what you’re not getting). Do your research beforehand about the company’s mission and values and speak to them.  An example would be “I feel that I’m not able to grow with my current company.  I know that company X really values growth and mobility and that’s part of the reason I think it would be a great fit for me.”
  • Stay diplomatic!
    • The number one rule to always keep in the back on your mind when you are answering this question is that you need to stay diplomatic.  Never badmouth your former employer.  If you do one can only assume that you’ll do that to the next company too.  Above all, it’s just not professional and not interview-appropriate.  Even though it may be tempting to vent, save that for your friends and fam!  The PG version of the story should show up at the interview.
And now for an example:
I’m currently looking for new opportunities because I don’t feel that I am able to continue to grow at my current company.  In speaking to other employees at your company and reading the website, I realize that growth and mobility is something that is a big focus and priority at [company you're interviewing at].  That is the type of place I want to spend the next years in my career.  I’ve had an amazing experience overall at [past company] but I think now is the right time to move on.

Hope this post helps you answer this common question.  It’s a tricky one but if you stick to these three tips you will do just fine.  Have other interview questions that you’d like to see some answers to? Email them to questions@prepary.com.

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