How to Answer: “What’s the Reason for Leaving Your Job?”

What's an appropriate reason for leaving a job? Here's a full list of interview-appropriate answers when the hiring managers shoot the question.

How to Answer: “What’s the Reason for Leaving Your Job?”

No matter what position you are being interviewed for, you will probably face the questions “Why did you leave your last job?”, or some variant of it. These questions can be tricky, and quite horrifying if you haven’t prepared for them. Your answer should clearly state your reasons, but it needs to be formed in a very specific way.

You should never bad-mouth your former employer, or show any irresponsibility on your part. This question is extremely important to the hiring manager, as it can give them lots of information about who you are.

And more importantly - what can they expect from you, if you get the job. But how to form your answer right, and not blow your chances of getting the job?

We’ve got you covered. In this article, we are going to explore the following questions:

  • Why do Interviewers ask About Reasons For Leaving a Job?
  • Should You Explain Your Reason For Leaving a Job?
  • How to Explain Your Reasons For Leaving a Job?

And finish off with some of the best reasons you can provide as an answer. We will also discuss one more difficult situation – what to do if there are follow-up questions?

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Why Interviewers Ask About Reasons For Leaving a Job?

The first thing we need to focus on is why is this question so important to hiring managers. At its core, the reason is quite simple – they want to hire candidates who are there to stay.

If your experience shows that you’re job-hopping that’s a potential red flag for them. Answering these questions can justify your short time-spans on some of your previous jobs and remove that red flag from your application.

If we separate the information hiring managers get from this question, there are 3 sub-questions that they get an answer for:

  • Were you fired? If yes, why?
  • Did you quit on your own? If yes, why?
  • What do you value in a job?

These 3 questions can sum up your work ethic, your qualifications, and your interests.

Should You Explain Your Reason For Leaving a Job?

The answer to that question is always yes. When an interviewer asks you a question, there is specific information they want to learn, and not answering can be a huge red flag for them.

No matter the reasons for leaving your past job, you need to stay truthful and positive. The way you phrase your reasons is key. If your answer is constantly running away from the actual question or is formed negatively, that can end up really badly for you.

You need to show that you have integrity and your reason for leaving is valid. Even if you got fired, it is still better to provide your side of the situation. That’s your chance to remove the red flag from your application.

Remain truthful and positive, and emphasize what you have learned from the situation, and how you have grown.

Last, but not least, if you have prepared a list of reasons for leaving a past job, make sure you start with the most professional one. After all, you want to present yourself in the best possible light.

How to Explain Your Reasons For Leaving a Job?

Now that you understand the purpose of the answer, and why is it important for you to answer, let’s go a little deeper on how to do it right.

Make your reasons clear

Before you can present your reasons for leaving a job to the interviewer, you need to explain it to yourself.

To do so, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself. Make sure you write down all your answers, just to see things more clearly:

  • What are your values?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What are your personal goals?
  • What do you value in a job and a workspace?
  • What industry do you want to develop in?
  • What company values must match your own?

After you have done that ready, take a close look at all your answers. Target a few of them that can be used as best reasons for leaving a job, and consider using them during the interview.

Make sure whatever you choose is professional. You should not state any personal reasons during the interview.

Keep it short

Even though you have to be thorough, you don’t need to spend the whole interview on that question. Make sure you keep your answer between one and two sentences long.

You need to answer the question clearly, but also shift the conversation back to why you are the perfect fit for the job.

Be positive

No matter on what terms you left your previous job, you should always stay positive. No employer wants to hear negative comments about another employer, or company.

Furthermore, it always makes a terrible impression, and in most cases can effectively kill your chances of getting the job. Employers are always on the lookout for candidates who can show their problem-solving skills and their abilities to work through difficult situations.

Staying positive on that topic can really make you stand out with just those skills. Focus on skills you earned and developed in your past jobs, the good relationships you have created, and positive interactions with clients.

Be truthful

No matter the situation, you should always remain truthful in your answers. You can still keep it short, but make sure you can’t be caught in any kind of lie.

Don’t forget that your potential employer can always get in touch with your previous one. By doing so, they can easily find out if you have lied about anything in your answers.

Make sure your answer would not be in conflict with anything your past employers might say. If that happens, you might lose any chance of getting the job. So, just keep it short and truthful, and steer the conversation back to your qualifications and why you are perfect for the job.

Good Reasons For Leaving a Job

Okay, now you’ve got your basics for providing a good answer about reasons for leaving a job. But we wouldn’t leave you off with something additional to get you going.

That’s why we have gathered some really great answers to the question. Here are some perfectly respectable reasons for leaving a job.

You are looking to advance in your career

The most common good reason for leaving a job is that you are looking to advance in your career.

And that is in no way a bad thing. You may feel stagnation in your professional development and now you’re looking for the next big opportunity for growth.

That would show your potential employer that you are eager to learn and develop professionally.

You have chosen a new career path

Another absolutely valid reason for leaving a job is wanting to change your career path. You might want to pivot the direction of your career a little, or you might have found your dream job in a completely different field of work.

Either way, that shows your potential employer that you are really interested in the new field that you have chosen.

You have found a better professional opportunity

Often a better professional opportunity can reveal itself when you least expect it. And it is always a great idea to pursue these opportunities.

They show your potential employer that you are not afraid of taking difficult decisions. Whether your better professional opportunity means that you will get a better salary or the company values to match yours better, it is one of the best reasons for leaving a job.

You let go or were laid off

It is not nice when you have to let go, or you were laid off, but it happens constantly. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

You still need to remain positive about it. Don’t try to hide it, or be untruthful in any way. However, stay away from words like “fired”.

You still want to make the best possible impression. What you need to do is briefly explain the situation and share what you have learned from it. Make sure you steer the conversation back to why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

What About Follow-up Questions?

The last thing you need to think about is any follow-up questions that may occur. Depending on how you form your answer, there are a few that can occur.

Make sure you think about any follow-up questions that may be asked during your interview. You may also ask friends, or family members, to think of any questions that would come up in their heads when you state your reason for leaving a job.

Takeaway

Answering the question of why you’re leaving your current job can be daunting. Thankfully, most hiring managers just want to know more about you. Remember that:

  • Making a career change;
  • Looking to advance your professional development;
  • Looking for new challenges;
  • And just leaving your job;

Are all perfectly good answers to the question of why you’ve left your last job.