7 Better Ways to Answer “Why Are You Leaving Your Job?”
No one stays at a job forever. One way or another, you will have to leave. Retirement, resignation, termination, retrenchment…the time will come for you to leave your job.
For employers, they need to work on ensuring they keep their employees. Especially the good ones. Employee retention is a key pointer to a company’s success.
Unless you are retiring or have decided to get into entrepreneurship, you’ll be looking to get another job.
Are you ready for your new job?
You will meet new people and develop new friendships. You stand a chance of growing in your career. You may experience more personal growth due to the challenges in your new job.
There is a lot of good that can come with a new job. As with many things in life though, landing that new job is not automatic. There is a process.
You have to go through an interview, or several interviews.
Job interviews can prove to be the biggest hurdle in your quest to get a new job. Whereas some questions are normal, expected and quite easy to answer, others are just the opposite.
The hiring manager, or interviewing panel may ask you some questions which can throw you off balance. These are the kind of questions many candidates dread.
Such questions are not necessarily difficult but can surely be challenging. One such questions is, “Why are you leaving your current job?” If your resume shows that you are not currently working, then this question could be framed to be, “Why did you leave your last job?”
Understandably, this question can be a tricky one to answer. If only you could tell the panel, ‘PASS’ and they move on to the next question.
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR JOB?
When you think about it, you really have the answer to this question. Don’t you?
Yet, the answer is not the problem. The real problem is what your answer makes the panel think of you.
It is often said that what you say doesn’t matter.
How you say it is what matters.
This statement is true.
Not only in an interview, but also in your daily relations.
For example, if you receive a gift from a friend, you will be expected to say ‘Thank you.’ If you say it with no enthusiasm, the conclusion will be that you did not like the present.
There is definitely a reason as to why you are leaving your job. From personal reasons to difficult managers, there will always be something that pushes you to move.
Technically speaking, there are three ways of leaving a job. Through retirement, resignation or termination by employer.
Retirement comes with age. For you to retire, you will usually have attained a certain age. In many countries, the retirement age is set by the government as part of its policies on employment. If you are looking for a new job, the reason is likely to be either resignation or termination by employer.
If you resigned, there was a reason which you gave for your decision. The reason may be the only one or just one you picked and kept others to yourself. For example, you may have had difficulties relating with your boss. You may also have struggled with the work pressures and felt that your efforts were not being recognized. But to keep things simple, you may have preferred to mention only the work pressure.
If you were terminated by your employer, you still have a chance with another one. Whatever caused your termination may sound bad but there is always room for corrections.
Now that you have been invited to an interview, you are required to make known the reason you are leaving your job. You have the option to give any or all the reasons you have.
All the same, it is best to stick to one and avoid discussing your current job too much.
This means you need to pick the main reason and keep others away. Remember that honesty is vital.
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION?
The main reason this question may be difficult is that you don’t know why it is asked.
Probably making it worse, it comes at a time you have discussed other things and so it seems like it’s intended to unearth some truth you are hiding.
Unless you have been through significant job positions and gone through many interviews, you are understandably nervous.
Some job interview questions are tough and can make you very uneasy. This makes you want to quickly get to the end of the interview and perform well. If you perform well, then you get the job.
Since getting the job is the ultimate goal, you want to ensure everything goes well. Your dressing. Your words. Your posture. Your tone.
In the heightened need for perfection, you are likely to make mistakes. Striving not to make mistakes, you want to give the perfect answer.
It will be worth noting that the perfect answer does not exist.
What you need to do is have the truth and present it properly. It however happens that this does not work out as easy as it sounds.
It would be very easy to answer such a question if asked by your best friend. You wouldn’t even have to think about it.
But the hiring manager is not your best friend, so you do not know how they think.
Moreover, not only are you facing a stranger, but you also need to make an impression. A good and lasting impression. This is the cause of the difficulty.
WHY THIS QUESTION IS ASKED
You may wonder why you are being asked the reason you’re leaving your job. “What is the relationship between my current job and this one?” you may ask.
Well, a lot.
Not in the sense that the management in both companies work in similar ways. Or that both companies have the same vision. Or are competitors in the same field.
In any case, even when moving from one field to another, you will still meet this question.
So what’s the big deal about it?
When interviewers ask you this question, they are essentially trying to answer some other questions. There are three main ones which hiring managers need answers to.
Are you the best candidate for them?
As expected, there are many candidates applying for a position. Yet it is only the best candidate who will get it.
This question helps recognize the candidate with the right attitude towards work. Your answer will also reveal what kind of work ethics you have.
For example, you may say that there is too much work in your current job. A further question may be asked as to how you handle the situation.
If you give an answer such as “I do what I can finish by the end of the day. The rest is for the following day,” then you could set off some alarm bells. Such an answer could be understood to mean that you cannot give some extra time when needed to.
Are you an honest person?
This is an interesting way of confirming a person’s honesty. It may not be openly evident how it works but it’s quite simple.
Through out the interview, you will be asked many questions about yourself. The way you answer this one will either agree with or contradict your other answers.
For example, you may have said that you are sociable and freely interact with people. You may then say that you are leaving your job due to inability to work well with colleagues. This shows inconsistency.
Or, you may have said that you work well under pressure and can put in more time as required. When responding about leaving your job however, you say that there was too much work.
Whereas this is not intended to point out lies, it can do a good job at that.
When you contradict yourself, you are simply saying that you are not honest. Who knows what else you could lie about?
Will you be happy with the job?
Employers are not only keen on ensuring they get the best talent. They also want to ensure their employees love their jobs.
This question therefore gives you an opportunity to show your interest in the company. Watch the below video and learn how you can express this interest.
When responding to this question, you will not just be giving a reason as an answer. You will essentially be telling the panel about the situation in your current job.
They will compare that to the situation around the position you are interviewing for. If they are the same, then there is no need to hire you. If they do, you will still be unhappy and probably leave sooner than later.
Here, the hiring manager is keen on ensuring he has a low employee turnover.
Also, the company is seeking to hire someone who will happily embrace all that the position brings. At the end of the day, a happy employee is a productive employee.
WHY YOU SHOULD PREPARE FOR THIS QUESTION
Preparation for an interview can never be overstated.
Have you ever been asked this question before and were not sure whether your answer was well received? Or did you fumble with words, unsure which reason to give. Did you probably have the answer but could not explain things adequately?
It could be disastrous for you when you have the answer but just fail in delivery.
Interviews themselves make many people anxious.
Whenever you are unsure about anything, then things get worse. The more you try explaining, the easier it is for you to come across as lying.
Saying things the right way is not just about the words you use. As important as your choice of words is, so is your facial expression and the tone of your voice.
You should have the right answer and practice giving it well. This will enable you give a short and clear answer to the question when asked. Not only does this save you anxiety but also shows that you are prepared.
Let’s see how to answer this question without inviting additional feelings of nervousness.
HOW TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION
While in an interview, it is important to remember that the interviewer is out to make a business decision. Therefore, he needs to hire the best.
When this question comes up, do not take your mind to your employment. Do not start talking emotionally about the bad working conditions, unfair treatment or similar things.
Although these things may be happening, you need to bring out this information in a professional way. Below are some common situations which cause people to leave their jobs in search for a better one.
With each situation, there is an answer given as an example of what could be used in an interview. These answers are not to be memorized. They are instead supposed to act as guidelines in your specific situation.
Go through them with an open mind and implement the ideas in the answers you have.
A bad relationship with your boss
Bosses are human beings and no human being is perfect. Humans are also very different in nature.
Apart from that, the work environment has a way of bringing out some character traits in a person that can rub off wrongly with others. This is expected.
Many surveys conclude that employees do not leave companies but managers. Some companies have picked this and actively work on their management personnel.
If you are leaving your job because of your boss, you can say:
I have recently realized that the direction my employer is headed is different from the one I want for my life. This has made it difficult to be on the same page with my employer. I am therefore looking for a job which I’ll be able to flow well with. That will make it easier for me to be more productive for the company as well as my own career.
Too much work
The amount of work you do matters a lot. If it’s too much, it can impact your health and personal life. You may not have time for your family or friends yet these are an important part of you.
You should be able to achieve a good work-life balance.
If you allocate little time for either work or other aspects of your life, you will actually perform poorly in everything.
Working hours differ from country to country as well as between the genders. At some point, there may be more work and your employer can request you to work extra hours.
This is subject to compensation agreements. Working extra hours should however not be the norm. If there is too much work to be done, your employer should just hire more staff.
If you are leaving your job because the work schedule is not conducive for you, you can say this:
Whereas I have always loved my job, the amount of work has been steadily increasing. As a result, I have experienced a challenge in balancing between my work and personal life. A good work-life balance will help me be more productive in all aspects of my life. I believe this job will help me achieve the right balance.
Seeking a higher pay
As you work, you obviously expect to be paid. Your pay should reflect the kind of job you do and the skills you have.
Despite how you started, you may have improved your skills thus expect a higher pay. If you are not satisfied with your pay, it is very unlikely that you will be productive at work.
Whatever job you do, you will always utilize your knowledge and expertise to move the company forward. The company on the other hand is to pay you accordingly.
In some cases, together with the pay, the company implements other forms of benefits. If you are not comfortable with your current pay, the first thing to do is talk to your boss.
If there is no solution from that, then you wouldn’t be blamed for seeking to change jobs.
You can say this:
I have made significant progress in my career and learned new skills. Through these, I have been able to implement cost effective measures in the production process in my job. With the overall effect of higher profits, I feel that my knowledge and skills could attract more value than they currently do. I believe this job will give me the value that reflects my expertise and effort.
If you are moving to a different neighborhood, then you will most likely need to change jobs. Working closer to your home has great benefits.
This is to ensure you don’t struggle getting to work in the morning or back home in the evening.
Whereas you don’t need to mention to the hiring manager the exact reason for relocation, feel free to give this as a reason for leaving your current job. You can say this:
My family has moved and getting to my current job is weighing down on me due to the long distance. Despite the joy I have in working in my job, the long commute makes me spend too much time on the road. To avoid getting to work late and to get back home in good time, I need to reduce the commute. I look forward to achieving that with this job.
Lack of promotion
Nobody wants to work somewhere they are not being recognized for their efforts. One of the ways you can be recognized for your efforts is through a promotion. Promotions make you happy as you feel appreciated.
Promotions are helpful as they enable you move to higher levels in your career.
Unfortunately, some companies either don’t promote employees or promote with favoritism. If your job has not provided you with a good growth track, you may feel that it’s time to call it quits. Here is how you can say it:
My experience and skill set have enabled me provide solutions at my workplace, including increasing sales during lean times. I’m however not progressing in my career despite additional education and several expressions of interest in higher positions. I am hoping this job will give me an opportunity to grow my career further.
Change of career
It is expected that you chose your career path long ago and so you should stick to it. It is however not wrong to change your mind about your career.
Changing your career can seem dangerous as you get into a new field. This is nonetheless better than getting stuck in a place which is not right for you.
The below video gives you some guidelines when you want to change careers.
As it is rightly said, a wise man changes his mind. All the same, your wisdom may be questioned by the interviewer. He may think that you are making the wrong move. Don’t worry though. Everyone starts somewhere.
What you need to do is convince your interviewer that this move is the right thing for you. Tell him what motivated your decision and show him how it will benefit his company.
This is where you bring in what you learned about the company when researching about it before the interview. To bring this out well, you could say:
I have decided to change from engineering to marketing so as to tap into my passion. I love interacting with people and have always had an easy time communicating ideas. I know that not only will this new career be more natural for me, but I will also enjoy it. When I fill the vacancy you have, you will be able to see the difference I’ll bring within a very short period.
Your job is boring, no longer challenging
This is a great reason which you can easily turn to your advantage. As with all other answers, you should not be negative at all.
Do not start talking about how you sit in the office doing nothing. Don’t say how bored you are to the point of spending half the day on social media. No matter how true this may be, it is not what your interviewer should know. At least not now.
A great job should offer optimum growth opportunities. Growth opportunities come in the form of challenges. If you are not getting challenged at work, you are not growing as you should.
In giving this reason, show how ambitious and goal-oriented you are. Tell the panel how much you like engaging with people to solve problems.
Have some examples to use as evidence of what you are saying. Since organizations exist primarily to solve problems, you will stand out among the candidates.
Here is how to frame your answer:
I have been working in my current job for the past five years and have mustered everything about it. This has made my job less interesting and more routine. Having successfully designed and installed the security systems in use and there is now no challenge to my daily work. I have also enrolled for a specialty course which I will complete by end of summer. Considering the scope of work mentioned in the vacancy, I believe your company will provide me an opportunity for growth.
You may be leaving your job for reasons other than the ones listed in this article. Going by our tips, you can learn how to communicate the answer you have. You only need to keep four things in mind and you will stay on top of the situation.
- Be positive – your attitude can easily show when you speak. If you have any hard feelings against your job, deal with them before the interview. Do not blame anyone or anything for wanting to leave your job.
- Do not go into too much detail – the more you talk, the more you are likely to say something you would rather not have said. Use the tips above to answer this question but don’t explain the situation.
- Focus on the future – you are leaving your job because of some things which happened in the past. Recognize those things as what made you decide to leave and keep your eyes on the future. Your answer should indicate your assurance of a better future. It is in pursuit of this better future that you’re looking for a new job.
- Direct the conversation back to the interview – have some control over the interview. Since you are not dwelling on the past, your answer should bring the focus back to the interview. Do this by including in your answer how your new job will be different. Remember to use information about the company that can back your assurance.
As intimidating as this question may sound, it is very possible to answer it well. Look at it differently and you will realize that it’s an opportunity to further ‘sell’ yourself.
It’s an opportunity you have been given to say what difference you see your potential employer bringing into your career.