How to answer, “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

When you are interviewing, how do you answer those more difficult questions like, “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

You can be strategic, thoughtful, and positive with these difficult questions. It is an opportunity to show your skills and ability to frame your experiences in a forward-moving manner.

Why Do Employers Ask “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

Hiring managers want to know what your reasons are for leaving a previous job.  This will tell them about how you handle transitions and how you talk about your previous company, which will reflect on how you might talk about their company one day.  It also tells them how positive you can be.  Can you stay focused on your goals and vision and use language that moves you forward? Interviews are high-pressure situations. Preparing for the more difficult questions is a key part of the interview process.

Pitfalls to Watch Out For When They Ask It

Do not answer with:

  • I hated my boss.
  • I want more money.
  • No one listened to me.
  • It was boring.
  • Personal issues.

Employers want to know that you will be a useful, productive member of their team.  If you’re willing to badmouth your previous employer it looks bad.  Offering up your personal issues or life changes in an interview is equally a no-no, this interview is about how you’re going to fit in with them.  You need to focus on the positive, the productive, and the team.

Related: Answer These 10 Questions before Looking For a New Job

Some Reasons You Can Give For Wanting to Leave Your Job

First, before you start crafting the perfect answer, you need to know what you’re focused on.  What is your career mission? What are your values? Who are you within your career?  If you can answer these questions before the interview, it becomes much easier to focus on a positive outlook when answering questions like “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

Positive answers to focus on:

  • I want to grow my career.
  • I’m focusing on changing my career path.
  • I’ve learned a lot from my company and I’m ready to find new ways to apply those skills.

Sometimes the answer is harder to make positive, like if you were fired or laid off.  Be honest, and explain what happened calmly and clearly.  End with a positive note of why this is a new opportunity for growth or bring it back to your personal goals.  If you were laid off, explain why you were laid off as part of a larger corporate process. If you were let go, take some time before the interview to gain insight about what went wrong and how you can make sure that doesn’t happen again.  Create a short and succinct answer that explains what happened but doesn’t dwell on the negative. Always end on a positive note.

If you can, move from “because of…” answers and instead, work toward “in order to…” answers.  When you use the phrase “because of” you’re blaming your previous company. There’s something wrong if there’s a “because”.  If you move into language like “In order to…” You are leaning forward. You’re visioning something bigger and new without bashing your current company.  Here are some great examples of how to do that.

Remember, with proper preparation you can project a confident, focused, and successful image in your interviews, even with the most difficult of questions.  Take the time before your interview to answer “Why do you want to leave your current job?” and then at the moment, you will be able to showcase your strategy and goals.

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