How to Actually Answer Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job

How to Actually Answer: “Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?”

As far as interview questions go, this one certainly feels like a strange one to answer.

While the real answer might be as simple as you hate working under your current boss, the key is to focus on the positives!

So, how on earth do you do that?

Especially if you were unfortunate enough to have worked for a bad employer or in an industry that simply didn’t float your boat.

To help prep you for interview success, here are some of my top tips to help you answer this question with ease.

What do interviewers mean when they ask this question?

Generally speaking, this particular interview question is all about testing your ability to give a positive answer.

Let’s face it, business owners aren’t stupid.

They’re well aware that there are some employees out there that don’t always hold the highest of regards for their previous employers.

That’s not to say that this question is all about bending the truth. Instead, it’s a simple case of highlighting the positives and focusing on the right areas.

Overall, employers want to know four different principles:

  1. Is your reason for leaving a good one? – If you decide to leave a company for no real reason, it might make you sound irresponsible and untrustworthy.
  2. Are you leaving on your own terms? – If you are being made redundant or could/have been fired, what does this say about you? Employers want to know whether this is a company or individual issue.
  3. Are you leaving on good terms? – have you made it clear that you would leave on positive terms? Employers want to see that you’re a great employee who has just decided to look for a new opportunity.
  4. What are your work values? – the reasons you give for wanting to leave a position can tell an employer a lot about your values as a professional.   

It’s worth noting that his interview question might be adjusted to “why did you leave your previous role?” – if this is the case, these similar principles apply.

What shouldn’t you say?

As I’ve touched upon a couple of times already, ranting about your old/current boss or just giving a negative reason won’t paint you in the best light.

Poor answers can include:

  • Bad mouthing your previous/current employer
  • Giving a short and blunt answer, as this can indicate to the interviewer that you’re hiding something
  • Spending too much time focusing on the restrictions of your current/past job
  • Overemphasising the fact that you weren’t appreciated at your last job, as this can make you sound like a diva

You should also avoid using words like ‘can’t’, ‘couldn’t’ and ‘wasn’t’ as this can really impact the positive impression you’re trying to leave.

How should you answer?

If you’re still employed at the time of the interview, you should focus on the fact that you’re looking for a better opportunity rather than fleeing from a bad one.

The perfect answer is to promote the new company and how appealing it is.

In other words, it’s an excuse for you to deflect the reality and just reassure the employer that you’re eager to take the opportunity.

You might even decide to say that you weren’t even actively looking, but you couldn’t resist this interview as it’s a dream job for you.

Obviously, you should avoid laying it on too thick and using it as a brown-nosing exercise!

Using a negative example is ok in this instance, however, you must emphasise the positive and don’t detract from all of the positive comments you’ve made about the opportunity.

For example, if you’re under the illusion that the business you’re currently working for may go under, this is a perfectly acceptable negative as it shows you’re being forward-thinking in searching for a new role.

Just don’t go dishing all of the dirty details!

Example answers:

First answer

“Having worked for [Company] for X amount of years now, I’ve picked up a huge array of experience in [examples]. However, now I’m looking for a new opportunity and I believe your company will offer me an array of fresh new challenges. This position appeals to me because it will allow me to manage a large group of people and acquire new skills too.”

This example makes the current position sound positive and then brings in examples of how great the new opportunity is.

Second answer

“I’ve had an incredible time at [Company], but with lots of potential management changes coming up, I’m looking for my next big opportunity. I’ve admired your company for many years and have always wanted to work for you. This position seems like a natural fit, combining my wealth of knowledge in [examples] and your incredible experience of nurturing employees, I believe we can achieve some wonderful results together.”

This next example answer turns the negative reality of a potential redundancy into a series of positives about the new employer.


So, there you have it.

Like a lot of other interview questions, the most important element is to stay positive and focus on how your new employer can help you achieve your individual goals.

If you pass this test with flying colours, you’re definitely going to give yourself a great chance of making a top first impression with your interviewer.

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Good luck!

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