Your interview is going well. You think you are going to advance to the next stage of the hiring process for your dream job. Then, the interviewer asks you “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Your confidence drops as you realize you are going to have to discuss the reasons you are leaving your job.
This is a common predicament to be in. After all, questions about why you left your last job are some of the most common questions asked during interviews. You don’t want to seem like you are leaving for the wrong reasons.
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In this guide, we give you advice to answer the question “Why do you want to leave your job?” We’ll also walk through a few good reasons for leaving your job that you can share in your interview.
Why Are They Asking about the Reasons You Left Your Job?
Being asked about the reasons you are leaving your current job can seem overly personal. However, there are a few reasons hiring managers ask this question.
Your answer to this question gives the hiring manager a good idea of what you value most in a job. For example, you may say to the hiring manager that you quit your last job because you didn’t have many opportunities to advance. This indicates that you care about career progression and personal growth.
This question also allows an employer to look out for a few red flags in a candidate. For instance, leaving your job because you don’t like your boss can be a sign that you are not a good team player.
Good Reasons for Leaving a Job
The last thing you want to do is go into a debate about the problems you faced in your last job. To help you answer this question effectively, we’ve prepared a list of a few good reasons you can mention for leaving your current job.
#1: You’re looking to advance in your career
Some organizations provide more opportunities for career advancement than others. For instance, some businesses have a flat structure, which means opportunities for progression are rarer. Others have more levels of management, which means that there are clear next steps up the career ladder.
If you were not able to reach all your professional goals in your last job, you can mention this. This will show that you had a clear reason for leaving your job and that you have ambition and passion for growth.
Here’s an example of how you could talk about career advancement as a reason why you are moving on:
“I thoroughly enjoyed my last job and learned a lot from the experience. However, I believe that there are no longer sufficient opportunities for advancement at the business. I’d love to hear more about how your organization thinks about long-term career progression. Also, I want to know more about how you nurture employees who are looking to build new skills.”
#2: You are looking for a new challenge
After working in the same position for some time, you may feel like you need a change and a new set of challenges. This is a crucial part of working: when we no longer feel challenged, work can quickly become monotonous. If you are in this situation, share it with your interviewer. This will allow you to showcase your passion for growth, and your interest in taking on new challenges.
Here is an example of how you could talk about looking for a new challenge:
“At my former employer, I found that there were not enough challenges in my day-to-day work that kept me fully engaged with the organization. As I worked there for four years, there was a high degree of repetition in my job. I was not feeling as though I was learning enough. I am looking for an opportunity where I can apply the skills I already have, and acquire new ones too.”
#3: You were laid off or let go
It may feel uncomfortable to talk about how you were laid off or let go. However, these are very good reasons why you are looking for a new job.
If you were laid off or let go, you should be truthful. Tell your employer that is why you’re looking for a new job. You don’t need to talk about all the circumstances around why you were let go or laid off. However, sharing some basic information can help an employer identify any red flags.
Here is one example answer you could use:
“I left my former job because my boss and I shared different ideas of what my day-to-day responsibilities should be. I realize that, when I was starting my position, I should have taken more time to learn about my exact duties. However, I learned a lot from the position. I am excited to explore new opportunities where I can apply the skills I have acquired.”
#4: You are burnt out
While you shouldn’t mention that you burned out in your last job, burnout is a good reason why people look for new jobs. Burnout can make work feel boring, and have a negative impact on your mental health. If you cite burnout as a reason for looking for a new job, it shows that you know when you have reached your limits. It also shows that you value your mental health.
Here is an example answer you could give when talking about feeling burnt out:
“In my last job, I struggled to maintain a good balance between work and the rest of my life. The job had too many responsibilities, some of which were not in the job description. I am looking for a job where I can apply my unique talents while also maintaining a work-life balance. I believe your organization would be an excellent place for me to achieve this personal goal.”
#5: Your company’s values did not align with your own values
You may have felt that in your last job you had to do certain work that did not align with your personal values. If this is the case, then it’s alright to talk about how you left your job for this reason in your job interview.
By sharing that you did not align with your company’s ethics, you show that you care a lot about company culture. This also gives you an opportunity to discuss why you think the values of the company at which you are interviewing resonate with you.
Here’s an answer you could give to share that you left your last job due to cultural differences:
“I found that in my last job the company was going in a direction that I did not personally favor. Our company started to become too focused on reducing the bottom line in favor of boosting profits. I think this compromised the integrity of many of our core products. My manager asked me to take on new responsibilities for which I was not qualified. This made me uncomfortable in the workplace. I am excited to explore opportunities with a company that has a clear value-driven culture.”
Bad Reasons for Leaving a Job
A negative experience at your last job—such as having a bad relationship with your boss—may be behind why you left the job. However, you should make sure that your answer is constructive. Here are a few reasons you should avoid mentioning when answering this question:
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- “I want to earn more money.”: If you left your job simply to earn more, the employer may get the impression that you are only motivated by money.
- “I was bored.”: Maybe your previous job bored you to death. Often this is not because you are not a good worker, but because the work is not right for you. Avoid talking about how your last job bored you. Instead, focus on how you want to explore new challenges.
- “I want an easier job.”: You may think that your current job demands too much of you, but you should not mention this in an interview. This reason for leaving a job makes you sound like someone who is not dedicated to the job.
How to Discuss Your Reasons for Leaving a Job
So far, we’ve walked through a few examples of why you may have left your last job. We’ve compiled a list of a few top tips that you should follow to successfully answer questions about why you are leaving your job.
#1: Talk openly about why you are leaving your job
Leaving your job may sound like a negative event, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are parting on good terms, then there is no reason to feel embarrassed or awkward about looking for a new opportunity.
In your interview, you should speak openly about why you are leaving your job. Did you need to take some time off to care for a family member? Were you concerned about whether the company could offer you opportunities for progression? Whatever the reason, make sure you clearly communicate it to the employer.
#2: Focus on the positives
Even though you may have left your job for a difficult reason, you should stay positive when discussing why you left your last job. The last thing you want to do is spend five minutes listing all the problems you faced at your last job.
After sharing the reasons you left your last job, mention that you are looking to go forward on a positive note. If you left your job because you burnt out, say that you are now looking to build a new balance between work and life. This shows that you thought a lot about leaving your last job. It helps you create a more positive impression of yourself on the hiring manager.
#3: Be concise
This is only one of many questions the interviewer may ask. You don’t need to put too much emphasis on crafting an elaborate answer.
A few sentences on why you left your last job is usually enough to sufficiently answer the question. Once you have answered the interviewer’s question, you can go back to discuss why you think you are a good fit for the job.
You may feel a bit awkward about discussing why you left your last job. However, being able to answer this question effectively is crucial.
If the interviewer asks this dreaded question, discuss a constructive reason why you left your last job. Did the company lay you off? Did you need to take time off to support a family member? Was the job not challenging enough?
Giving a constructive reason for leaving your job makes it easy to stay positive. As a result, you’d show the interviewer that you are looking to advance in your career.
By following the tips in this article, you’ll have no trouble learning how to effectively discuss your reasons for leaving your last job.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.