Why are you leaving your current job?
The question asked in every interview and the one that has a huge impact on your performance if you haven’t prepared it.
I am sure if you are interviewing for another job, there are numerous reasons why you want to leave. You don’t like your current manager? You haven’t received validation at work in a while? Your salary isn’t high enough? You are being overworked?
These are all the most common reasons people leave. But can you say this in an interview? Not exactly - and here is why...
It can be very tempting to fully open up about the real reason you want to leave. We have all been there in an interview when a question throws us off guard, or it seems like the honest answer is the easiest. But the truth is, that’s not what they need to hear. Any negative reflections will leave the wrong impression:
- I didn’t get on with my previous manager...
- The job just didn’t suit me...
- I didn’t enjoy it at all…
- I didn’t have enough free time...
The person that you are speaking to could be your future manager, or your future colleague, and have a large influence on the hiring decision. If they hear you willingly talk negatively about your old employer, what is to stop you from doing that with future employers?
So if you can’t state the real reason, how do you actually answer the question?
What are hiring managers looking for?
The first thing to remember is that, although HRs are asking why you want to leave, they are still interviewing you for their job. The trick is to give an answer concerning your current situation, but then relate it to what this company can offer you.
You need to adapt yourself to the question: redirect it from “why do you want to leave” to “why do you want to join”. I guarantee this would have been their next question, so beat them to it.
So how do I answer this question?
When you begin your answer, the career change must seem desired, rather than circumstantial. For example, they want to see a desire to learn, to grow in your career. You don’t want them to think you are only applying because you need a new job ASAP. Even though you are a qualified candidate, if they think this is a hasty decision, then why should they offer you the job? They probably have multiple other candidates - so make sure you utilize this question and prepare correctly - as it is guaranteed to be asked:
- Look at the job description: Extract aspects of the job requirements and responsibilities, and explain why this would fulfil your career goals. This shows that you directly understand the company’s need to hire - and explains why you are the best fit.
- Look at the values of the company: Every company has a mission statement that you can link to your own career goals. If you incorporate this into your answer, it shows you have done your research.
- Utilize this to personalize your answer. If you don’t link it back to the company and the job description, they will just think you are applying everywhere. That may be true, but we don’t want them to know that:
- For example: “I learned a lot in my current role, but I would really like to further specialize my skills in XXX. I think this position could offer that by XXX…”
- Loop in an accomplishment that you achieved in the past role, that would bring success to this new company. “I actually achieved XXX in my current position, and I think this could help me to excel in XXX”
If you link your own achievements and strengths into the answer, their next questions will dig deeper into these topics. Before you know it, you have redirected the conversation into your own personal strengths, rather than a rabbit hole of negative reflections.
The market is being increasingly competitive, across all industries. In the post-corona world, remote working opportunities are everywhere, and subsequently, applications are not just from local regions but further afield. Therefore, for the interview questions that you can predict, make sure you prepare them in order to stand out from other applicants!
If you would like some support with preparing questions like this, then please book a call with me!