One of the most commonly asked and difficult questions to answer in a job interview is why you want to leave your current job. It is difficult to answer, because if you give the wrong reason, it will put you in a negative light.
Answering this question well is not just about giving a good reason, but also how you justify the reason you give. And it's this justification which makes answering this question particularly difficult.
So how do you learn what type of reasons to say and how to justify them?
Think like an interviewer
The easiest way to learn how to answer this question is to put yourself in the position of an interviewer asking this question. Think about what the purpose is of them asking the question. Is it to find out about your work experience? or to find out what type of person you are?
Once you've decided what the purpose is, ask yourself what type of things you would want to hear (and not hear) from a potential employee if you were interviewing them for a job?
By doing this, you'll not only understand what you should (and shouldn't) say, but it'll also make it easier for you to come up with a good answer and to remember it when doing the interview.
Unless you have already interviewed people for jobs yourself, this may seem like a difficult thing to do. So to help you understand how to answer this question, I have created the below online exercise. Through reading 3 good example answers and then doing a short quiz at the end, this exercise will not only show you both what reasons and types of things to say, but make sure that you understand why they are being said.
When doing this exercise, try to focus on understanding what makes each answer good (the purpose of what is being said and why) and not on learning the vocabulary being used in them. If you want to learn professional sounding words and phrases to use in your own answer, after you've done this exercise, you should do our exercise on 'Job interview questions: Why do you want to leave your current job?'.
Examples & Exercise:
Below are answers given by three different candidates in a job interview to the question 'Why do you want to leave your current job?'. When reading each answer think why an interviewer would think it's a good answer. Also, think about what the purpose is of what the candidate has said in their answer.
Once you done this for each candidate's answer, do the quiz at the end to make sure you are right.
'First of all, I would like to say that I don't have any problems with my current employer. I have worked there for over 7 years and have enjoyed my time there. They have provided me with an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. And from starting as an analyst, I am now a manager of my own team. I am very grateful for the confidence they have shown in me and also the experience that I have gained.
But during these 7 years, I know what I excel in and what I want to specialise in. And due to the nature and size of the company, my opportunities to pursue this area there are limited. So, in order to move my career to the next stage, I have to move on. It's a shame, because I have a very good working with my manager and my team. So, it's not a decision that I have taken lightly. But, I feel that the position that is available here will provide me with the opportunity to focus on an area in which I both excel and love.'
'To be honest, I wasn't job hunting. One of my ex-colleagues forwarded me the advert for the position. I am very happy in my current job. I have achieved all of my goals and I am now in a position where I make a difference for the company.
The only reason I would leave my current position is for something significantly better. And having read the roles and responsibilities for the job, this position offers it. This role has more responsibility, plus working in a different environment provides a new challenge, which I am sure I can meet. In addition, it would be foolish to turn down the possibility of doing this role in a company with such a strong reputation as yours. I think this role provides an excellent opportunity for the progression of my career.'
'I've spent 4 happy years with my current employer. But due to the current financial crisis, they are currently downsizing their operations. As a result, it's made a lot of people redundant and although I have been informed that my job is safe, there's a lot of uncertainty. So, I feel now is the time to move on and look for a more secure position.'
Below are 6 questions about the above candidates' answers. Choose the correct answer from each question's selection box. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, an Additional Information Icon "" will appear next to the answer. Click on this for both extra information and a detailed explanation why this answer is correct.
Now that you understand what you need to do to answer 'why do you want to leave your job' vocabulary, come up with your own answer for this interview question. Or you can do an exercise to learn vocabulary to use in your own answer.
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