How to answer: Why do you want to leave your job?

How to answer: Why do you want to leave your job?

When job hunting, there are a few questions you can expect to be asked. In the top ten interview questions you’ll find the dreaded strength and weakness question and one that you might not expect: ‘Why do you want to leave your current job?’.

Don’t let the question throw you off and answer that it’s none of their business. Obviously you want to leave because something is not going well. If it was perfect you wouldn’t even be looking for something else. But don’t take it the wrong way, it is NOT an invitation to bitch about your job. It’s just a way for the recruiter to understand what motivates you. The real question they’re asking is ‘What are you looking for in your next role and why does this particular position attract you?’.

By being honest(ish) about your reason for leaving you won’t make the same mistake twice. And if they can’t handle your answer then they’re not the right place for you. 

To structure your answer use the ‘shit sandwich’ approach. 

  • Positive: start by talking about what enjoy in your current job and what you’ve learnt
  • Negative: to describe what you don’t like about your it, talk about what was missing / what you need to grow in your career
  • Positive: finally, tell them how great their job is and what a good match it is for you

Here are some diplomatic answers you can give when asked ‘Why do you want to leave your job?’

My job is boring → During the past 5 years I have learnt a lot about [product / service / industry] and I am now looking for a more varied role. Your position would offer me the opportunity to expand those skills in a more challenging setting. 

I hate my company → Working in my department has been an enriching experience but I would now like to join an industry I am passionate about / a company whose mission and values strongly align with mine.

I don’t want to work so many hours → My role was really exciting and required a lot of personal commitment. For my next step in my career, I am looking for a change of pace and I know you are committed to your employees wellbeing and helping them achieve a good work-life balance. 

I can’t stand my boss → I have learnt a lot during my time in my company. I would now like a position where I can explore new ways of working and take more responsibilities / work independently / work closely with directors / or whatever your boss didn’t allow you to do.

I didn’t get a promotion → While I love working at my company, the opportunities to progress internally are limited. I am now looking for better career prospects and your position would allow me to grow my leadership skills.

This isn’t the job for me → My time at my company has been an invaluable experience but my real passion in this sector and this role does not exist in my current organisation. Your role is better matched to my long term career goals and would allow me to develop my skills.

I am not paid enough → I thoroughly enjoyed my job at my company and have consistently achieved my objectives every year. I have now reached a growth ceiling in my role and am now looking for a more challenging and rewarding position. 

You get the gist of it…

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