It is likely in a job interview that you'll be asked why you want to leave your current job. This is a difficult question to answer, because if you say the wrong reasons, it will make you look bad.

The reasons that you give in your answer for wanting to change jobs should be something which you think the interviewer(s) will both understand and appreciate (e.g. improving prospects, working closer to home etc...).

One of the things you should never do when answering is to directly criticise your current company. It never looks good. In fact, you should always say compliments them.

In this online exercise, we will look at both examples and professional English vocabulary you can use in a job interview when answering a question about 'why you want to leave your current job'.

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on vocabulary to use in CVs/resumes and job interviews.


Exercise & Examples:

Read the following three answers by different candidates in interviews to the question, 'Why do you want to leave your current job?'.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Candidate One:

'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.'


Candidate Two:

'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.'


Candidate Three:

'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.'


Now do the QUIZ below to make sure you know how to answer this question in a job interview.

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Quiz:

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A different way to say 'to focus/concentrate on', is
         

Specialise in:
(verb) This is very common when talking about an area of work/business in which you have a lot of experience in. When used with 'I would like to', it means an area of work/business you desire to focus more on in the future, e.g. 'I would like to specialise in company law'. It is a good reason for wanting to change jobs. In Spanish: "especializarse".

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Specialise in:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. When you are bored with your job and want to test your skills/ability, you want a
         

New challenge:
(noun) This is a common reason people give for wanting to change jobs. Be careful if you use it because some interviewers may think you become easily bored. It is fine to use it if you've been in the same company for over 5 years. In Spanish: "nuevo desafío".

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New challenge:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. When a company reduces the number of staff because of economic reasons, is
         

Redundant:
(adjective) This is used with the verb 'to make'. An informal way to say the same is 'to lay off'. This occurs when a company has financial problems and needs to reduce the number of its workers to lower costs. A company 'makes workers redundant'. For a worker or member of staff it is used in the passive, e.g. 'I was made redundant'. In Spanish: "despedido".

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Redundant:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. A phrasal verb that means to change companies, is
         

Move on:
(phrasal verb) In this context it means to change/leave a company for a new job. 'To move on' sounds less strong than both 'change' or 'leave'. It is intransitive (it doesn't have an object), e.g. 'After the project finished, it was the right time to move on'. In Spanish: "cambiar de trabajo".

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Move on:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. A verb that is used with challenge, to mean you are successful with it, is
         

Meet:
(verb) In this context we use the verb 'to meet' with 'challenge' to mean to successfully do/perform a challenge, like climbing a mountain or having to run a difficult project, e.g. 'I have met every challenge I have been given'. In Spanish: "superar este reto".

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Meet:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. When you've had to think a lot before making a decision, you say
         

It's not a decision that I have taken lightly:
(phrase) This is used in this context to mean that the decision to leave your current company has been a difficult one to make. It is a good phrase to use because it suggests that you're a loyal type of person and don't change your mind a lot. In Spanish: "Esta decisión no se tomó a la ligera".

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It's not a decision that I have taken lightly:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. Another way to say 'everything is good', is
         

I don't have any problems:
(phrase) In English you can never use two negatives in a sentence. So, that is the reason why when the verb is negative (don't have), we use any. It is followed by 'with' when you refer to the person or thing, e.g. 'I don't have any problems with them'. In Spanish: "no tengo ningún problema".

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I don't have any problems:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. When your job is safe and there's no fear of losing it, your situation is
         

Secure:
(adjective) It is used with the nouns 'situation' or 'position'. And it has the same meaning as 'job security', e.g. 'I'm looking for more job security'. A good reason to give for changing companies if there is uncertainty about what will happen with your current job/position. In Spanish: "seguro".

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Secure:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. When you want to advance your career, you want to move it to the
         

Next stage:
(noun) This is used with the verb 'to move' and the noun 'career'. It means you want to progress to a higher level at work with more responsibility etc..., e.g. 'I want to move my career to the next stage'. This should be used if the job you are applying for is a higher position than your current one. In Spanish: "siguiente paso".

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Next stage:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. When you are looking for a job or a new job, you are
         

Job hunting:
(noun) It is a commonly used expression to use for looking for work or a new job. In Spanish: "la busca de un trabajo".

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Job hunting:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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11. When you say 'no' to an offer or opportunity, you
         

Turn down:
(phrasal verb) A very common phrasal verb. In this context it means 'to say no to' or 'to reject' something. It is transitive (it has an object) and can be separable, e.g. 'They couldn't turn the offer down'. In Spanish: "rechazar".

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Turn down:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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12. A different way to say 'I am very thankful for', is
         

I am very grateful for:
(phrase) This is a very good phrase to use in a job interview when talking about a current or former employer. It shows that you appreciate what the company did for your experience and career, e.g. 'I'm very grateful for the confidence they showed in me'. In Spanish: "estoy muy agradecido por".

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I am very grateful for:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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13. When a company reduces its operations and number of employees, it is
         

Downsizing:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to downsize'. This is a common business term to describe the action of reducing costs by closing down certain activities and operations, and of course reducing its number of staff, e.g. 'The company is downsizing its banking operations by closing ten of its offices in Europe'. In Spanish: "reducir el tamaño/la reducción de la empresa".

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Downsizing:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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14. A different way to say 'to become involved in' or 'to perform' types of professional activities, is
         

Pursue:
(verb) This is used to talk about what you want to do with your career in the future, e.g. 'I want to purse a career in service management'. It has a similar meaning to 'I would like to specialise in'. It is a good reason for wanting to change jobs. In Spanish: "dedicarse a".

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Pursue:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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15. The duties and tasks that you have to do in a job, are called
         

Roles and responsibilities:
(phrase) These are the fundamental things that you will have to do in a job, e.g. 'generate a monthly performance report, manage a team of 20 people etc...' You will be provided with a list of these on the job advertisement, the job application or in the interview. In Spanish: "las funciones y responsabilidades".

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Roles and responsibilities:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the 'why do you want to leave your job' vocabulary, practice them by creating your own answer to this interview question with the new words/phrases.

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