The interview question, “Tell me why you’re leaving your job” is one of the most difficult interview questions to answer. No matter your reasons for leaving your current job, it’s important you prepare a positive response. If you feel the reason you’re leaving your job is negative, thinking about how you’ll answer this question is even more important.
Here are some dos and don’ts you should think about before you answer the interview question;
“Why are you leaving your job?”
Why do interviewers ask this question?
This interview question isn’t designed to catch you out. Interviewers want to know why you are leaving your job for a couple of reasons.
- It gives the hiring manager an insight into what motivates you and what you value in your job and organisation.
- It sheds light on your long-term career plans and what you want to get out of a new role. It also gives an employer an indication of whether you’re parting from your current employer on good terms.
The Dos. Some good reasons for leaving a job.
There are lots of perfectly acceptable reasons why you may be leaving your job. Of course, this includes that you just aren’t enjoying it anymore! The important thing is that you communicate it in a positive way.
Here are some great responses for answering “Why are you leaving your job?”
Responsibility and career development.
Hiring managers will be eager to hear that you’re hungry to develop your skills and increase your responsibility. If this is the reason you’re leaving your job then make sure you give the hiring manager examples of the kinds of skills you’d like to learn and how you think this role will help you do it.
A career change.
Pursuing a new direction in your career because you have developed a new interest is perfectly legitimate. Let your interviewer know how you discovered your new passion and what you enjoy about it.
Changing your career direction is also an indicator that you’ll be serious about this new job and that you’ll have a genuine interest in the work. It also highlights that you’ll find this new work meaningful. This engagement and motivation will drive your interest and commitment.
Companies merge and restructure all the time. These changes can often be catalysts for job role changes and new team dynamics. If this is your reason for leaving a job, give your interviewer some examples of why the new structure isn’t working for you. Make sure you also comment about what you’ve done to try to make it work or improve the situation.
This added detail shows your level of investment. It highlights your problem-solving skills and how you’ve made a true attempt to be a team player in the face of a challenge.
Finally, you might like to do a bit of research into the organisational structure of the new company. This will reassure the hiring manager that their business structure is one where you’ll be comfortable and can thrive.
The pandemic ignited the focus on work-life balance and its importance for employee wellbeing. You may be looking to leave your job as your preferred working arrangements don’t align with your employer’s as we leave the pandemic restrictions behind.
If this is the case, you need to be upfront about it. Make sure you’re transparent about what you now require. When discussing work-life balance, be clear on what you’re seeking in the long term. Whether this is remote work, a compressed working week or flexible hours, you should be honest and upfront.
Sometimes the reasons for leaving a new job are as simple as needing to relocate. If this is the case, explain why you’re making the move and what skills you can offer the company. You might also like to highlight what’ll benefit you about this new job and location. This is especially important if there’s a need for onsite work or the requirement that teams are near the office.
The don’ts. How not to answer, “Why are you leaving your job?”
There are some definite don’ts when it comes to answering “Why are you leaving your job?”
Here are some things to avoid.
Don’t fall into listing a ream of complaints about the job, the organisation, your boss, or your colleagues. By doing so, you’ll look bitter and negative. These are qualities that aren’t desirable in an employee. Instead, seize on your positive experiences. Think about the opportunities you enjoyed at your previous job and all that you’ve learned through working there.
Criticising the manager.
If unhappiness with your manager is the reason for leaving your job, you need to approach the subject in a tactful and positive way. For example, if your boss tends to micromanage your work, then you might like to say,
“My boss takes a real interest in my work. While I appreciate their input, I am looking for a role in which I have more autonomy over my workflow.”
Focus on salary.
A need or want for a higher salary is a common reason for wanting to leave a job. However, it’s a good idea to leave this explanation at the door. Instead, imply you will be looking for a higher salary by reframing your answer. By highlighting you’re looking for more responsibility or that you’re looking to stretch your skills, you’ll indicate your desire for a higher salary. It’s likely that your interviewer is experienced so they’ll be able to intuit your needs.
How to answer “Why are you leaving your job?”
- Focus on the positives and what your time in this job has taught you.
- Highlight your want to learn and your need for more responsibility.
- Do your research about the organisation. Focus on structure and the organisational model. Does this work for you?
- When it comes to worklife balance, think what works for you. Be clear about this with your interviewer.
- Relocation is sometimes necessary. Highlight why you’re making a move and what you feel like the benefits will be to the new location.
- Use salary as a motivator.
Did you find our advice helpful? We have masses more interview advice for job seekers over in the Employee Advice section of our blog.