The Quick and Easy Answer to “Why Are You Leaving Your Job?”

December 17th, 2014 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

Why Are You Leaving Your Job

There’s no doubt your reasons for leaving your job feel justified. That’s true whether it’s one big reason or a collection of small ones. For you, it’s simply time for you to move onward. Yet most employers want more info than that.

Primarily, they want to know what makes you tick and what might prompt you to leave in the future. To achieve that end, they ask “why are you leaving your current job?” Like other parts of the interview, it’s crucial to sell your suitability as a candidate in your answer.

Negativity Is a Dead End

Being honest about why you’re leaving your job doesn’t mean dwelling on the negative. This isn’t the time to break open the levee and pour all of your pent up sorrows onto the world. Your interview self is you on your best day. That precludes bringing up any gripes or complaints.

But what if you are leaving because of a hostile environment, aimless leadership, or boring projects? Instead of grumbling, frame your reasons in the right light.

All of the above complaints can be rectified by something positive. A supportive environment. Strong leadership at the helm. Projects that challenge you. You may not have that now, but presumably, this new company does. And your response should be in that vicinity.

Relate Back to the New Job

Nothing said in an interview should ever be haphazard. Even an answer to “why are you leaving your current job?” needs to fit with your overall purpose: convincing the interviewer that you’re employee material.

Overall, your response should be calibrated to show you’ll be a good cultural fit. A strong response to “why are you leaving your current job?” should be broken down like this:

An Acknowledgement of Your Employer

Start with the positive. What have you learned or gained from the job? Approaches like this create a narrative that shows your forward progression. Plus, it gives you a chance to squeeze in a bit about your experience and technical skills.

What You Need

Take a look at where you’re dissatisfied in your job and find the solution. Trade “leaving a hostile environment” for “looking for one that supports my career vision.” Switch “I’m tired of aimless leadership” to “I’m excited to take on leadership roles.” Swap out “I’m exhausted by boring projects” to “I’m eager to find some left-brain challenges.” In every example, leaving your job should feel like the next logical step in your career.

How Your Needs Benefit This New Company

This is the heart of the question: does your need to leave benefit the new company’s team. It’s important that you prove it. To do that, review the company’s website and social media accounts with a fine-toothed comb beforehand.

While doing that, look for any values, team structure, or company goals that would benefit from your contributions. Those are most potent for a hiring manager.

Bring It All Together

Regardless of the industry, your response can sound something like this.

“While with [Company Name], I’ve truly gained a great deal of experience with [mobile app development/plant floor management/SOX audits] that has set my career in the right direction. Now, I want to move into a position that [lets me take on leadership roles/exposes me to a whole new set of challenges/allows for greater collaboration]. I see the potential to do that with your company.

With [your hierarchical structure/your vision for the future/cooperative culture], I see an opportunity for me to achieve bigger and better things. Doing so, I know I can help you to achieve [company goal].”

It’s short, spends more time on the new company, and proves that you’re already thinking about what you can achieve there. Ultimately, a response like that will put the rest of your interview off on the right footing.

by James Walsh

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