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Answering: Why do you want to leave your current job? | Main Region | TS

Why do you want to leave your current job?

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Knowing how to explain your reason for leaving your current job during an interview is an important part of your interview preparation. Most interviewers ask candidates why they’re looking for a new job and it’s natural that your recruiter, potential employer and even your friends and family will be curious about your motives for leaving and looking for a new job.

When a hiring manager poses this job interview question, the answer you give carries a lot of weight. While there are many different reasons for leaving your job, the way you articulate your motivations in your job interview is crucial.

Why the interviewer asks why you want to leave your job

Your reasons for leaving a job are intrinsically linked to your potential performance and level of engagement in the next. So, a hiring manager or recruiter asks this job interview question to give them clues about what motivates and fulfils you, what your long-term goals and ambitions are and what type of company culture might suit you best.

They’ll also be watching your verbal and non-verbal communication skills closely to see if you answer this potentially awkward job interview question with clarity and professionalism.

As such, how well you answer this interview question and explain why you want to leave your job will likely either trigger or silence alarm bells in the mind of your interviewer. Clearly, it’s important you get it right. So, below you'll find some good reasons for leaving a job along with sample answers.

How to answer, ‘Why do you want to leave your job’ – best answers

The key to answering interview questions about why you're leaving your current job is to avoid focusing on what you dislike about it. Instead, answer this question in a way that shifts the interviewer’s focus to the opportunities you see in the position you’ve applied for. Ultimately, you want the interviewer to perceive you as a forward-thinking and proactive candidate who is looking to make a positive change in their career, not someone who can’t get over their previous job.

For instance, you could begin your answer in the following way: “While I’ve learnt a great deal in my current job, I believe it is now time to make a change, because…” From here, you have a platform to move your focus from the old to the new. For instance, you can go on to talk about a desire to develop your career with new challenges, including how you’d like to use a new skill set you’ve learnt, and then articulate how your experience makes you the ideal candidate for this particular job. This answer positions your reasons for leaving in the context of what you hope your future career will hold.

Explaining your reason for leaving a job in this way also means that the conversation comes back to you – in other words, what you’ve learnt and achieved, your career goals and the value you can bring to a new organisation.

Following are some of the most common reasons for leaving a job. For each, we include sample answers to show how you can explain your reason for leaving your current job while pivoting the focus onto the new opportunity ahead.

Reason for leaving: You’re no longer learning in your current job

If your learning and development has stagnated in your current job, the key point you want to get across to the interviewer is that you want to continue to improve your skills and progress. So, in your answer, communicate that you have learnt a range of key skills in your current job, but foresee that they will be more effectively applied – and enhanced – elsewhere in a new job.

For example, “While I have learnt a great deal in my current job, such as X and Y, I’m now looking for a new opportunity in which I’m able to expand on my skills, and build on my experiences, on a more consistent basis. I believe this opportunity may enable me to do that, as I’ve found from my research that your company has a commitment to lifelong learning for your staff.”

Reason for leaving: You’re feeling undervalued in your current job

Here, you should not focus your answer on the fact that you want to leave a job because you feel undervalued. Instead, focus on what you’ve achieved in your previous job and learned from the experience. Then mention that it’s now time to move on from your current company.

For example, “In my current job, I am extremely proud to have achieved X and Y. However, I feel that now is the time to apply my skills to another company, with the hope of achieving more success and delivering more value to my next employer. Having read the job description, I believe I will be able to provide genuine value in X, Y and Z areas.”

Reason for leaving: You’re struggling to see how you can progress in your current job

This is a common reason to leave your current job that typically applies to many candidates. While the interviewer will understand this, getting your answer right is still crucial.

For example, “Although I was promoted to a team-leading position, after several years with the company, the structure of the business has made further progression difficult. The chance to apply the skills I have learnt in my current job, to the more stretching responsibilities of an innovative and forward-thinking environment such as this, is simply too good an opportunity to miss.”

Reason for leaving: Your relationship with your current boss isn’t productive and supportive

Don’t focus your reason for why you want to leave your current job on what is wrong with the person you work for right now. Remember, you need to be positive and tactful when you answer this question, so turn the attention to your new potential boss and impress them with the knowledge and skill set you’ve acquired so far. Keep your answer focused on the new challenge ahead rather than the existing challenges with your boss in your current position.

For example, “I’ve learnt a great deal from my current employer, but I’m keen to work in a more collaborative environment. I was particularly impressed to learn that your company operates with a unified communications system, which gives every member of the team the chance to be involved in all stages of the work.”

Why you want to leave your job – final tips

You’ve probably noticed a consistent theme running through these example reasons for leaving your job. The focus is always on you and your potential new employer – not on the role you want to leave. Answering why you want to leave your current job in a positive and forward-looking way will allow you to explain why you are the ideal candidate for the new role without detailing why you no longer feel right where you are now.

Lastly, no matter how much you have come to dislike your current job, badmouthing your current boss or employer, or any former employer, won’t sell you to a new one. Even if you genuinely believe you aren’t currently being paid enough, haven’t learnt anything, deserve better work life balance or are not being challenged in your current job, saying so will not reflect well on you.

So remember, focus your answer to why you want to leave your current job on the future and don’t dwell on what will hopefully soon be your past. And don't forget, this advice works just as well when asked, "Why did you leave your last job?" as it does when discussing your current job. After all, many hiring managers find the reasons why you left your last job and previous employer just as insightful as why you want to leave your current one now.

To sum up, “Why are you looking to leave your current job?” is an extremely common interview question – it is also one of the most important to get right. By framing your reasons for leaving in the right way, it's also a fantastic opportunity for you to showcase your proactive mindset and dedication to delivering value to your next employer.

For more job interview advice, download our complete Hays Job Interview Guide.

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