Why did you leave your last job?
Why are you leaving your current job?
If you go to an interview in 2021, we can guarantee that, at some point, the recruiter will ask you these questions.
“Can you give a good reason for leaving your previous job?”
Now be careful!
This is a tricky question, and how well you answer it may be the decisive factor for you to get the job.
There are different reasons for leaving jobs, and everyone has their unique circumstances.
Maybe you got fired, or perhaps you got laid off. Will you tell the truth to the interviewer?
**You don't want to tell something that will lead to rejection. **
So, take time before your interview to prepare a list of reasons for leaving a job to help the interviewer hire you.
Don't worry; we will tell you everything you need to know about answering these types of questions.
Below are the topics we will cover in this blog:
- Why do recruiters ask the question: "Why do you want to leave your current job?"
- Eight acceptable reasons for leaving a job
- Interview question variations for reasons to leaving a job
- How to answer the interview question "Why do you want to leave your current job?
- What not to say when you are answering the question
- How to prepare for the question “why did you leave your last job?”
Why do interviewers ask the question: Why do you want to leave your current job?
The interviewer can get a lot of information about you from your answer to the question: Why do you want to leave your current job?"
Here are some things that your recruiters are looking for:
- They want to know if your reason is appropriate
- To understand what are you looking for in a new job
- Are you serious about your work
- Did you leave your job voluntarily?
- Did you leave on good terms?
They want to know if your reason is appropriate
The interviewer wants to ensure that you are not irresponsible and you had good reason for leaving a job. It takes a significant amount of work and resources to train an employee. And interviewers definitely do not want to hire "job hoppers" who will leave the organization in a couple of months.
There are tons of reasons to leave a job:
- Your values do not match with the company goal
- Your manager asks you to do something unethical in your job
- Your organization went out of business
- You don't feel appreciated in your job
- Your mental health was suffering
- You are looking for more responsibilities
- Your current position does not have any growth opportunities
- You had some personal issues
- You want to shift to another city
- You are looking for a career switch
- You want to study for higher education
- You had to leave for health reasons
- You were laid off or let go
- You are looking to switch industry
- You are looking for better pay
And many more.
They want to know what are your expectations on your next job
As you answer the question, the interview will understand what you look for in an organization and whether you will be a good fit.
For example, say that you were working without a team in your previous organization, which put a lot of pressure on you. The interviewer will understand that you are not good at working by yourself and probably not a good fit for the organization.
They want to understand if you are serious about your next job
Nobody wants to hire someone who is casually searching for a job. The interviewer asks this question to see if you have a proper reason for leaving a job or casually searching for a new job. That might indicate you are a chronic job hopper and might put a wrong impression on your candidature.
So, if you are job searching, you need to have a concrete answer prepared for the question "why do you want to leave your current job?"
They want to see if you are kicked out or left voluntarily
Nobody wants to hire an incompetent employee.
The interviewer asks the question to understand if you left your last job voluntarily or were asked to leave.
If that is the case, "Do Not Lie!"
Honesty is an essential trait interviewers look for. And if you were fired, you need to prepare a strong answer explaining the situation and tell the potential employer that you understood your faults and resolved the issues to become a better employee.
- Badmouthing your past organization
- Negative talk about yourself
- Victimizing yourself
They want to know if you are in a good term with your past employer
Interviewers want to know if you have a good relationship with your past employer. It says a lot about your interpersonal skills and professionalism.
If you can somehow show that you are still collected with your previous employer, or better yet, have him/her as a reference, that will demonstrate your interpersonal skills and professionalism.
8 acceptable reasons for leaving a job
There are many reasons for leaving a job and looking for a new one. But there are differences between acceptable and unacceptable reasons.
"The job was below my standard" is not an acceptable reason for leaving a job.
"I got a better offer from another company, so I accepted" is a short yet acceptable reason.
Let's look at a few good reasons to leave a job:
Your last job did not turn out as advertised
Sometimes, organizations hire employees for a particular job responsibility, and sometimes down the line, the employee realizes that their job is entirely unrelated to the original job responsibilities.
Well, this is a good reason for leaving a job. Just make sure when you answer the question "Why do you want to leave your current job?", do not say anything negative about your current employer; instead, come up with a positive answer such as:
"I'm redefining my career goals right now, and looking for opportunities in SaaS as a project marketing manager."
"I'm looking for an opportunity in SaaS project management because it matches my interests, skills and also long term career goals."
You are looking for growth opportunities
Some organizations are not structured in a way that is suitable for growth. It might also be challenging to change departments. In that case, you may want to leave your current job and look for another one.
Here's an example of an answer to the question, "why are you leaving your current job?":
"I love working with xxx organization, but unfortunately, in my organization, there are no growth opportunities for my role. That is why I'm looking for an organization that can help me grow. Can you tell me briefly about the growth opportunities in your organization?"
You have other life goals you want to pursue
Many employees leave their job to pursue something else, like taking a master's degree, traveling, working on their hobbies, or even getting a hand on self-employment.
These changes can put a large hole in your resume. But as long as you have crafted a reasonable answer and show the potential employer that you left to improve yourself, it will not be a concern.
"I left my job to pursue my MBA degree."
Always try to give a short and to-the-point answer unless an explanation is necessary.
Your current company does not give you a raise
This happens a lot. Sometimes, you work hard in your job but never experience a promotion or a salary raise. This can be incredibly frustrating and de-motivating. And this is a good response for the question “why are you looking for a new job?”. Just do not vent out your frustration to your potential employer. Instead, answer with a positive attitude.
"In my current organization, there are no growth opportunities. So I realized it's a good opportunity to move on and look for an organization where I'll be challenged and improve myself professionally."
You didn't vibe with your superior
According to a study, 50% of employees leave their job because they do not want to work with their boss. Since your boss will be the person you will always be in close contact with, if you do not see eye to eye with your boss, it may create impossible working conditions.
And it's a perfectly reasonable reason for leaving your job. No interviewer will hold you accountable for leaving your job where you didn't have a good working relationship. But as we said earlier, you need to answer the question positively.
"In my organization, I've improved my video editing skills and built strong relationships with my co-workers. However, I recently understood that if I want to work with my full potential, I need an organization with a strong mission. And XXX company's mission to provide clean water to every part of the country is something I'm excited to work on."
You had no work-life balance in your job
you may be a hard-working employee, and you love your job. But if you feel that your work is dominating your life and it's taking a toll on your mental health, leaving your job to find a job where work-life balance is appreciated is a reasonable answer.
However, craft your answer carefully. You don't want to come off as a lazy person. Instead, your response should project that you are a mature professional who is not afraid to work hard for the organization and knows how to manage time efficiently for a healthy work-life balance.
"I do not mind working extra hours to benefit the organization. But additional responsibilities on my previous job take a toll on my mental health, and due to that, I couldn't follow through on my original commitments efficiently.
It's vital that my organization values my ownership of the works and provides me the flexibility to maintain a healthy work-life balance. "
You had your personal commitments
Any number of personal matters can let you leave your job. Maybe you had to shift to another city; maybe your parents got sick, perhaps you had an accident, maybe you have to take care of your kids. Whatever the case may be, all reasons are good reasons to leave a job. And hiring managers will not doubt your competency for that.
Here is an example answer:
"I left my job because I had to take care of my newborn son for a short period. Now that my parents are helping me with that, I find myself in a position where I can reenter the workforce."
You want to change your industry
Gone are the days when employees worked in a single industry and probably in a single company throughout their whole career. Today, employees change industries to find new challenges in their work and to reinvent themselves. This is a reasonable reason to leave a job. However, your answer should focus on:
- Why do you want to change
- The shared skills you will bring to the new work
- Your long term goal
Here is an example:
"I decided to leave my job as a software engineer because I found I'm really interested in video editing. I want to work in a creative field that brings stories to visual reality. With my job I also did video editing as a freelancer and have all the relevant experience needed for videography, which I believe will add to my role as a video editor."
Notice that the answer highlights the transferable skills that will benefit the new role.
How to answer "Why do you want to leave your current job?
Answering this question might be tricky for you if you don't prepare well for it. We suggest you prepare your answer before your interview. Lets see how:
Identify the reasons for leaving job
Take a piece of paper and write down:
- All the reasons why you left your last job
- Your values
- Your career goals
- What is your ideal work environment
- What do you liked and disliked about your previous job
- How was your relation with your coworkers
- What are you looking for in your next job
Now, go through it a couple of times. And you will find some key reasons for leaving your job. You can give these reasons as your answer. However, try to provide a more professional than personal response.
Give positive answer
You may have had negative experiences in your previous job, which led you to quit. However, you should never badmouth your previous employer in front of the interviewer. Instead, try to craft a positive answer focusing on your skills and achievements.
Employers love to see that you are a problem solver and know how to deal with difficult situations.
"I had a disagreement with my boss in my past job. I tried to resolve the problem by talking to him but in vain. That's why I left my job."
"In my last job, I learned a lot about scrum and learned how to handle difficult situations. Now, I'm looking for an organization where I can use all my skills and help grow the organization."
Be honest and refrain from giving too many details
The more you will talk, the more you will spill unnecessary information. Although it is essential to give the interviewer a satisfactory answer, try to keep your response around two to three sentences and move your focus back to why you are the best candidate for the job.
You may didn't like your last job. And that's why you quit. There are multiple ways to say it to your interviewer without being disrespectful to your past job.
You always need to remember that we live in a small world, and you don't know who knows whom. Your interviewer may contact your previous employer to do a background check. So, you always need to be honest when you answer.
What not to say when you are asked this question, "why did you leave your last job?"
Do not say anything negative about your last job
You might have had a negative experience in your last job. But if you badmouth it to the interviewer, it may sound immature and unprofessional.
The truth is, most employees have faced similar situations at some point in their careers. And if you think that the interviewer will be sympathetic listening to your story, then you are wrong. Most hiring managers see it as complaining and may discard your candidature for the job.
Do not say too much
In an interview, less is often more. The more you talk about your past company, the more chances you have of spilling unpleasant information to the potential employer.
Instead of talking about your last job, focus on why you want to join the potential employer's company, highlight your skills and make them understand why you are the best fit for the job.
Do not lie
Interviewers are trained to understand behavioral cues. They will likely know if you are lying. And they can always have the option to do a background check to verify whether you are telling the truth or not.
So, do not try to cover up any fact by lying. If you are fired, or laid off, or left because of a salary cut, be honest with your interviewer.
Here are some examples of answers you should not say to your interviewer:
- I did not like my previous boss
- The work was boring
- I could not cope up with toxic work culture
- I hated my colleagues
- My commute was too long
- I had to work late-night
- I did not get a raise in two years
- I did not perform well in my last job
- I didn't like my job
- I took the job to save money for my startup
- My values didn't align with my company mission
- I got overwhelmed by too many responsibilities
- I was constantly micromanaged
Interview question variations for reasons to leaving a job
Before we learn how to prepare for the job interview question, ***let us see some of the ways interviewers can phrase the question "why did you leave your last job?***"
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- Can you give us some reasons for leaving your job?
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- Why do you want to switch to another job?
- Why do you want to change the company?
- Why are you looking for a job change?
- Why are you looking for a new opportunity now?
- Give us three reasons for leaving your last job?
The interviewer might ask some direct questions as well:
- Why do you have a career gap?
- Why did you leave only after six months in your last job?
- What did you dislike about your previous role?
How to prepare an acceptable answer for the question “Why do you want to leave your job?”
Now that you understand what to say and what not to say when asked this question let us see some different scenarios with examples on preparing acceptable answers for leaving your last job.
When you are casually searching for jobs
You might be in an excellent position to answer this question if you are already employed. However, the interviewer will always want to know why you are thinking about leaving your job.
You can answer the question differently. But do not try to go overboard or try to lie to impress the interviewer.
You can certainly talk about some negative reasons, if there are any, such as there is a rumor of massive layoff in your company or there is a structural change happening in your organization, and your department is shutting down.
If the reasons are solid, you can certainly talk about it in the interview. But always try to emphasize the potential job, what you like about it, and how it can grow your career.
Here are some examples of answers to the question: "why do you want to leave your current job?"
"I have been working with the xxx organization for the last three years and learned a lot from the amazing team I work with. I worked my way up to the senior product manager position and increased our sales by 27% YoY in the last year. However, right now, I feel that I need some more challenges in my job. And this role in the xxx company felt like the perfect opportunity for me because it would allow me to manage multiple projects and work with a diverse team."
- Notice the answer highlighted that the candidate got promoted in his job
- It addresses the accomplishment of the candidate in his last job
- It gives a positive reason for looking for a new job
"I loved working with the xxx organization. I have successfully led the content team and increased organic traffic by 130% in the last five years. But right now, I feel the time for change has come. My organization is going through some restructuring, and a lot of projects are on hold.
Also, I've been looking to work with a bigger organization where I can use my skills on a grand scale and have many growth opportunities. And I feel this position is the perfect fit because of my experience in leading a content team and content marketing."
- Notice that the answer highlights the candidate's achievements
- Also, it addressed that the company's internal turmoil in a positive way
- It also an emphasis on the candidate's interest in the job position he's applying for
When you got laid off
Answering the question "why did you leave your last job?" becomes difficult if you were laid off from your last job. But, maybe the only positive thing about layoffs is they are unrelated to performance.
Companies make layoffs when they merge, restructure or lose business. It has nothing to do with your performance. And the good thing is, most interviewers do not judge employees because they were laid off if they can give satisfactory reasons.
So, make sure to give an excellent answer to the question, "why did you leave your last job?"
Here are things you should say:
- Mention why you got laid off
- Mention if other people got laid off too
- Emphasis on your performance before lay off
- Explain why do you think this open position is a good fit for you
"I worked with the xxx company for seven months when the company lost its biggest client. As a result, they had to eliminate some junior positions. I was one of them as I had a senior counterpart in the company.
In my time at xxx company, I learned to make animated videos and learned animation software such as Blender, After Effect, Cinema 4D, etc. And, I feel that my skills will be a good fit for the open position in your organization."
- The answer shows that the lay off was not the candidate's fault
- It focused on the skills and tools he learned on the job
When you get fired
If you were fired from your last job, then it will be difficult to answer the question, "why did you leave your last job?"
However, one thing for sure, you definitely should not lie to the interviewer. Instead:
- Try to frame your answer in a diplomatic way
- Focus on the things you learned from this experience
- Focus on what actions you took to improve yourself
- Mention if there were any expectations changes for your role due to change of management or change in business strategy
The goal should be to convince the interviewer that you are not a risky employee.
"After some change in business strategy, the expectations from my role did not match my strengths. Ultimately my manager decided to hire somebody more suited to the new responsibilities. As I reflect on that, I realize I could have done things differently.
However, this experience taught me that my expertise lies in project management, and I can efficiently use my skills in this open role in your organization. Do you want to know more about my experience in project management?"
- The answer is diplomatic. It also doesn't badmouth the past employer.
- The candidate accepts his faults
- The candidate focuses on his strength in project management.
When you have a career gap of more than six months
It is a fact that interviewers do not prefer to hire unemployed candidates. Things are worse when the candidate is unemployed for more than six months.
However, since the interviewer is considering your resume, it means half the battle is won. You just need to convince the interviewer why you had a career gap and why you will be a good fit for the role. Here's how you can answer the question:
- Give an appropriate reason for not coming into the workforce
- Focus on any work you had done when you were unemployed
- Move your focus back to why you will be the right fit for the job
Here is an example:
"I left my job six years ago because I wanted to start a family and raise my daughter. During these five years, I also worked as a freelance content strategist for small businesses. I also ran a small coaching business. This experience taught me a lot about online marketing, sales, and customer service. I also produce videos for my own youtube channel.
And I believe my online marketing and video production skills will be a valuable asset to your company. "
- Notice that the candidate gives an appropriate reason for leaving the workforce
- It also addresses her achievements during unemployment
- The answer emphasizes the critical skills of the candidate and shows why she will be the best candidate for this job
Preparation is the Key
Whatever your reason is, you need to prepare and practice your answer before going on an interview. Otherwise, you will come across as unconfident or shady even though you are telling the truth.
Hiration Interview Prep
Practice with Hiration interview preparation and perfect your answer and boost your confidence.
You can make use of the following features from the Hiration's Interview Preparation:
- Database of 20,000+ interview questions and sample answers
- An overview/objective of each question
- Know what the interviewer is expecting
- Easy search for job interview questions and answers
- Job interview Questions and Answers for 150+ work profiles
- Search for key strengths,specific questions, focus areas, and more
- Link to additional information for specific job and question
With that, we have come to the end of this blog. Here are the key takeaways:
- Do not lie to the interviewer about your reason to leave your last job
- Always prepare your answer before going to the interview
- Avoid badmouthing your previous employer in front of the interviewer
- Emphasis on your skills when your answer the question
- Avoid being negative or victimizing yourself
- Try to have a good relationship with your past employer
Now you know everything about how to answer the question, "why do you want to leave your job?" Now it's time to go to Hiration Online Resume Builder and build the perfect resume to get the interview you have been waiting for.
If you want our help, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.