What are your reasons for leaving your job? An age-old interview question that never gets easier to answer. While you may have many reasons for leaving your job—some are best kept confidential. So, how do you answer this question while sparing a hiring manager (and yourself) the uncomfortable details?
Here are valid reasons for leaving a job, tips for discussing your reasons for leaving a job, and why a hiring manager may ask you this in the first place. After all, does it matter?
Why do hiring managers ask your reasons for leaving a job?
Hiring managers aren’t asking interview questions to stump you—they do however want to get to know you. By asking you your reasons for leaving a job, they can understand what you value in an employer, situations you may find undesirable—and how you handle them as a professional. How you answer this question could determine if the hiring manager sees you as a good fit and value add for the role and company.
How to answer, ‘Why are you looking to leave your job’?
When answering this common interview question about why you’re looking to leave your current job, it’s important to prepare your thoughts in advance. Maybe you’ve stopped learning and growing, or you have a bad manager—whatever the reasons, remember to:
- Be honest. Honesty is important in any interview—and when answering why you’re looking to leave a job, it should be no different. While you don’t need to share every detail, you should be clear and honest about your reasoning.
- Be professional. When talking about a job you’re looking to leave, do what you can to avoid speaking negatively about your current employer. Keep the conversation neutral and remain tactful when discussing your reasons for leaving your job.
- Be succinct but thoughtful. Don’t harp on what you can’t change. You’re taking steps to improve your work situation—so be sure to add some important and thoughtful details about why you’re looking to leave, but you don’t need to carry on.
- Look ahead. Instead of focusing on the current job you’re looking to leave, be sure to wrap up your points by highlighting why you’re excited for the job you’re interviewing for. It will show the hiring manager you’ve done your research and you will end the conversation on a positive note.
Top reasons for leaving a job
1. Reason for leaving a job: You’re looking for learning and development opportunities
For people who value growth, a stagnant career path can be a real driver for a job change. If you’re looking for career development opportunities—a hiring manager will be glad to hear it! Share with them what kinds of opportunities interest you and what skills you’d love to build upon.
Example answer: I’ve been at my current job for some time and don’t feel there is any room for growth. I’m really interested in working on XYZ and developing my skills further. I’m ready for the next step in my career and believe this new role will be what I am looking for.
2. Reason for leaving a job: You’re unmotivated at work
Change is a good thing! If you’re bored at your current job and want to switch things up—that’s a valid reason for looking elsewhere. Before telling your potential employer you’re uninspired at work, consider focusing on what it is that motivates you to perform well.
Example answer: While it’s a hard decision for me to make, I ultimately want to work on something different and be in a more collaborative environment. I do like my job, but I am ready to take on more and love the structure of the team here at X company.
3. Reason for leaving a job: You want better work-life balance or more flexibility
Work-life balance is highly valued these days—and the good thing? Most companies have made changes to provide more flexible workplaces for their employees. If your’re company isn’t offering you what you need in terms of flexibility and balance—be upfront about it. Share with the hiring manager what it is you’re looking for and gauge if they can offer it.
Example answer: I’m happy with my current team, but my company isn’t flexible in terms of offering hybrid or remote work opportunities and we’ve been understaffed for quite some time now. While I do love what I do, I’m looking to work at a company that has some flexibility with working from home.
4. Reason for leaving a job: The company has changed
Over time a company’s policies, values, and structure may evolve in a way that no longer aligns with you. If your company isn’t what it used to be—tell the prospective employer how you’ve adapted to the changes and why they’re not working for you.
Example answer: I’ve been at my job for awhile and we’ve gone through a lot of changes over time. While I am a quick learner and have been open to change, the structure of my team and nature of my role has evolved in a direction that isn’t the best for my career. While it’s a hard decision to move on, I ultimately think this is the right move.
5. Reason for leaving a job: You’d like to make more money
It’s completely reasonable to want to make more money—especially if you’re underpaid. While leaving a job for a higher salary is very common, it’s best to highlight this is a way that shows you value growth.
Example answer: While leaving a job is always hard, I feel my current role is limiting in terms of growth. I’m always up for a challenge and value this opportunity because I can continue to grow here and take on new challenges.
Other common reasons for leaving a job:
There are many reasons for wanting to leave a job—and not all of them are simple. Below are additional common reasons you may want to leave. While these are outlined professionally, you’ll need to explain the situation a little further.
- You want a more senior role
- You’re looking for remote work
- Your current employer lacks specific perks or benefits
- You would like to work in a different environment
- Your role has changed
- You’re relocating
Interview questions can be nerve wrecking but preparing ahead of time can help you feel more confident as you go into the big day. When answering tough questions like ‘why are you leaving a job,’ it’s important to be honest, succinct, and remain positive in your explanation. Share enough details where the interviewer will understand why you are moving on, but always be professional in your answer.
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