How to best answer the interview question ‘Why are you leaving your current job?’

With these tips and tricks, learn how to never fumble at this commonly asked interview question!


Team KT

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Published: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 12:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Mar 2023, 11:21 AM

Why are you leaving your current job? Over the course of your career, you will work multiple roles at multiple jobs. There will be instances where you will leave the job of your own accord and times when you will be let go of – be it for reasons related to redundancy, disciplinary, or other issues. No matter the reason behind your departure from the previous company, answering this interview question could be tricky business.

Why do interviewers ask this question?

It is essential to determine the reasoning behind why this question is posed in interviews in order to figure out a good approach to answer it. Hiring committees often ask this question to understand your job stability. Are you someone who changes jobs frequently or sticks to one role/company for years? Are you quick to demand growth or do you take your time with a particular role? The reasoning behind your departure also clarifies your priorities and values regarding the job. If you left your previous work because you wanted the option to work from home, then hiring you for a role that will not offer you the same does not logically make sense. In simple terms, your answer to the question makes clear your job dealbreakers.

Along with showing how compatible you are as a worker in that company, it is a mirror that reflects your attitudes and spirit as a member of a team. How you answer this question tells interviewers a lot about you. Do you badmouth your past superiors or coworkers? Are you respectful when you speak of past experiences? Do you have a growth mentality? All of these help in assessing your fit when it comes to the job.

How to answer this popular interview question?

Here are a few tips you could keep in mind to answer the interview question ‘Why are you leaving your current job?’:

Be honest but tactful:

Remember to be honest but to have a prepared answer for this, rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind. Impress the reason behind why you’re no longer part of the previous company in a short, concise, convincing manner.

Below is an example answer that is both honest and earnest:

‘Owing to a management change in the company, there was a sudden increase in my workload that I could not quickly equip myself for. Due to this change and my inability to fulfil those newly increased deliverables, I was let go. However, I have used the time since to improve my time management skills and now feel confident to manage sudden changes and new experiences.”

If you were fired, your best bet is to be honest about it. However, give the answer a positive spin by focusing on your growth and the experiences that you gained through it. Refrain from lying about details that are easily verifiable (all it would take is a quick call to your past employer). Interviewers know that each job is a learning experience and that it is unreasonable to expect a candidate who has never made a mistake before. Your attitude and learning from it are what matters.

Make your priorities clear:

If you left your past job owing to certain dealbreakers, then it is best to make those known. Be it work-life balance, remote working, low pay, work timings, etc., emphasise them so that they know that those aspects are non-negotiable to you in this new job.

Don’t get personal:

If you left your past job owing to personal spats with your coworkers or bosses, it is best to leave that out of the conversation. If at all you need to refer to it, frame it professionally – ‘a difference of opinion/priorities that could not be overlooked’. Avoid badmouthing your past team as this presents a negative image of you as a potential employee.

Positivity is key:

Leaving a job you’ve been at for a while can be bittersweet. It could have either been a good experience or a difficult one, but either way, it’s always a learning experience. While answering this question, be authentic about the reasoning but also emphasise the positive experiences you are bound to have in the future. Make it known that you are excited about future opportunities to grow and contribute to the team.

For a better idea, spot the difference between two answers to the same question. Which candidate would you be more inclined to select?

‘I left the previous job because its values did not align with mine.’

‘I left the previous job because its values did not align with mine. While it offered me great experiences and taught me plenty of invaluable things, I am now excited to work for a company that does align with my growth and career goals, and to give it my all. I believe that this is the right fit for me now.’

With the right motivation and training, each job can essentially be a fresh slate of opportunities and learnings. Learn how to answer this tricky interview question for a smooth beginning. Happy job-hunting!

For more interview questions and answers, click here.

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