How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?” During Interviews

Navigating job interviews can be a daunting process, especially when you’re aiming for positions with salaries of $100,000 or more per year. One question that frequently arises, and can often unsettle even the most experienced professionals, is “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Crafting a thoughtful, honest, yet strategic response to this question is crucial, as it can significantly influence an interviewer’s perception of you as a candidate. Here are insights on how to effectively answer this question.

Understanding the Question

The first step to answering “Why do you want to leave your current job?” is understanding why it’s being asked in the first place. Interviewers usually ask this question to get specific information from your response. If you know what information the interviewer is looking for, you can craft a strategic response to satisfy 

Why Interviewers Ask This Question

Interviewers ask this question for several reasons. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

  • To gauge your professionalism and attitude toward past employers
  • To assess your career goals and motivation for the job
  • To identify any red flags that could affect your future employment

Crafting Your Answer

Now that you understand why the question is being asked, you can craft a strategic answer that positions you as the ideal candidate for the role.  

Reflect on Your Reasons for Leaving

Before the interview, take time to reflect on your genuine reasons for wanting to leave your current job. Aim for reasons that highlight your aspirations rather than focusing solely on negative aspects of your current or past roles. The following is a list of common reasons for leaving a job. See if any apply to you and your situation.

Common Reasons for Leaving a Job

  • Seeking new challenges
  • Desire for career growth and advancement
  • Looking for a role that aligns better with your career goals
  • Aspiring to work in a new industry
  • Needing a better work-life balance

Structure Your Response Positively

Structure your response in a way that makes you look like you’re pursuing a more positive future instead of running from the negative work experiences from your past. This shows that you’re professional and growth-oriented.

Focusing on the Future

Consider highlighting the following talking points in your answer to leave a positive impression on your interviewer:

  • Emphasize Growth: Talk about seeking opportunities that offer more growth and learning potential.
  • Align with Career Goals: Mention how the new role aligns more closely with your long-term career objectives.
  • Highlight New Challenges: Express enthusiasm for tackling new challenges and contributing to the company.

Avoid Negative Comments About Your Current Employer

Negative comments about your current employer will make you look unprofessional. Avoid negative comments at all costs.

  • Stay Professional: Even if you’re leaving due to negative experiences, focus on the future rather than dwelling on the past.
  • Be Tactful: If you must mention a challenging work environment, frame it as a learning experience.

Sample Answers to “Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?”

Here are a couple of sample answers you can use as a template while crafting your answers. Whether you’re seeking growth or transitioning into a new industry, use these sample answers to form your response so you can speak with confidence during your interview.

Answer for Someone Seeking Growth

“I’ve learned a great deal at my current job, and I’m grateful for the opportunities it has provided me. However, I’ve reached a point where there are limited opportunities for further growth. I’m eager to take on new challenges and assume more responsibilities in a role that aligns more closely with my career ambitions, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to work with your team.”

Answer for Someone Seeking a New Industry

“After several years in my current industry, I’ve realized that my passion lies in [new industry]. While I’ve developed valuable skills and experience, I’m eager to apply them to [new industry] and embrace the new challenges it presents. This position represents the alignment of my career goals with my personal interests, and I’m enthusiastic about the possibility of contributing my skills to your team.”

During the Interview: Best Practices

As you answer the questions during your interview, be sure to follow interview best practices to leave the best first impression you can. Here are a few to help you get started.

Be Honest but Diplomatic

  • Honesty is crucial, but it’s equally important to be diplomatic in your responses. Prepare your answer ahead of time to ensure it’s thoughtful and reflects positively on you as a professional.

Tailor Your Answer

  • Customize your response to reflect the company and role you’re interviewing for, showing that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the opportunity.

Practice Your Delivery

  • Rehearse your answer to speak confidently and avoid appearing rehearsed. The goal is to come across as genuine and prepared.

Navigating Your Career Transition With Confidence

Answering “Why do you want to leave your current job?” offers a prime opportunity to showcase your professionalism, ambition, and suitability for the new role. By focusing on positive motivations for change and aligning your answer with your career goals, you can turn this potentially tricky question into a moment that highlights your strengths as a candidate. Remember, interviews are as much about finding the right fit for you as they are for the employer, so answer truthfully and with your future aspirations in mind.