One of the most common job interview questions a potential employer asks is, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” A hiring manager wants to know that you have a valid reason for leaving your last job and to ensure you are the right fit for the potential new employer.
Below are the 20 best answers to this common interview question. First, let’s start with tips for delivering a good answer during your next job application.
5 Tips for the Best Answer:
- Keep your answer simple and brief. A good length is about 3-5 sentences.
- Provide a positive reason for leaving, e.g., developing new skills or seeking personal growth.
- Say how the new role with this prospective employer matches your career goals.
- Briefly discuss your career path and how you plan to be with the company for a long time.
- Paint your previous employer in a positive light. Say that you left on good terms.
5 Mistakes to Avoid:
- Giving negative reasons for leaving your current role.
- Talking about conflicts with coworkers or supervisors.
- Saying that the job description has changed and you don’t like your job.
- Giving overly common reasons that are too short, such as, “I am seeking a new challenge.”
- Sounding like you only want a better salary or improved benefits.
20 Example Answers for Different Real-Life Situations
#1. I want to develop my professional skills.
It’s been a tough decision, but I am leaving my current employer because I have learned all the professional skills I can in my current position. This means that to further develop, I have to go to a different company.
I love where I work, so this has not been an easy decision. I have thoroughly explored opportunities for growth with my current company. But I have now determined that seeking a new job opportunity really IS the best way for me to further my professional development. This will help me grow my skills and expertise to contribute the very most that I can to my employer.
My career is important to me and my goal is to be a valued member of the team for a very long time to come.
#2. I want to advance my career.
I left my former employer recently to focus my full efforts on finding the right job for the future. It is important to me to work at a company where I can develop for many years into the future.
In my previous job, my team and I had several significant achievements. However, my last position did not have any more opportunities to broaden my professional knowledge or advance my career. There just wasn’t the ability for me to gain exposure to new areas of specialization within my field.
So unfortunately, continuing my professional development means I have to look outside of the organization.
#3. This is a great opportunity. (Or: This is too good to pass up.)
The truth is I am thrilled with my current company and am part of a great team. However, a few months ago, I was musing about my dream job and where it would be, and this role with your organization was at the top of my mind.
I did a job search and was very excited to see this job available. From what I know of the position and your company, it is the best place for my unique skills and experience. If given the amazing opportunity to work here, I am confident that I would be here for many years.
#4. I want a challenging work environment.
I enjoy my current job and am a member of a good team. My current boss is supportive and understanding.
I am choosing to leave because I thrive in a dynamic environment with fresh challenges. I want to be part of an organization with a company culture of innovation, such as yours.
This new opportunity is a really good match for my background. I am confident that I can prove to be a valuable member of your team.
#5. I want a promotion.
I am seeking this position because it is the next step in my career advancement.
I have many years of experience. I also have a proven record of achievements demonstrating my skills and expertise that would make me a success in this role.
I saw the job advertised and feel that now is the time to seek the new responsibilities and learning opportunities that come with this higher position. I am ready for the next step!
#6. Your company culture resonates with me.
I am leaving my previous role because I want to do new things and to be part of a team that makes a difference. We spend a lot of time at work, so I want my time to be with a company that makes a change in customers’ lives.
Based on my research of your company, this is a position that I would be able to grow in and increase my value to the company for several years. I would be thrilled to have the chance to work here.
#7. I am looking for more predictability.
As I have progressed over the years, I have taken on exciting opportunities and responsibilities at work.
However, my personal life has recently changed. With my current work situation, I need more predictability in my role. Though I would love to stay in my current job, I’m the type of person that won’t rest unless my responsibilities are done on time and to the very best of my ability. To achieve that standard in my current role, it just isn’t predictable when, or how long, or what time of day or night I will need to work.
I applied for this role because I am seeking an organization where a somewhat consistent work schedule is also a good fit for responsibilities of the job.
#8. I have just completed college.
My current job was temporary during college. So I am leaving my current job because I have just completed college.
I am eager to put my new qualifications to use. My employer has been supportive of my studies and we have worked together to train my replacement. I am looking for a company where I can learn from senior staff and develop my professional skills over many years of loyal service.
#9. I want a career change.
I am leaving for a career transition. After five years of being in the same role and company, it is time for me to move on to a new industry.
I want to challenge myself in new ways and develop different skills, so I am thoroughly excited to be taking the plunge. I am driven tobreak out of my comfort zone and identify new areas for learning, development, and personal growth.
#10. I am returning to the workforce.
Sample Answer #1 (for the wanderer):
I decided that I had some growing to do. So I left my last job to focus on travel and self-discovery. During that time, I worked casually in several different fields. It was a great way to get my “wonder-lust” out of my system and figure out more about who I am.
I learned new skills and was exposed to new cultures and languages.
I am done with that chapter of my life. I am fully ready to settle down and get serious. I want a job where I can remain for the long-term. My goal is to build a stable career and start a family.
Sample Answer #2 (for the stay-at-home mom or dad):
I left my last job to care for my children while my husband was at work. I cherish the time I had with my family.
But now that my children are older, I am thrilled to have the chance to be in the workforce again and build my career. It is a great new chapter of my life, and I can’t wait to get started.
#11. I want a more demanding career where I can thrive.
I am a high performer. I want my personal life to reflect the time, effort and success of my professional life.
I have enjoyed my current role and have been well rewarded, but have been seeking a better opportunity with strong commissions.
When I saw your role, I knew immediately that I was a great fit for this demanding role. I know that by working hard to create excellent results I will be able to create the type of personal life that I seek.
#12. My previous employer is closing down.
The only reason that I am looking for a new job is that my previous employer is going out of business.
My team and I were close and worked well together. We achieved great results. Unfortunately, external factors caused the company to close down.
I am seeking a new team where I can bring my work ethic and unique skills and experience to the table. I want to be a valued member of the team. I am confident that I can help create a long-term competitive advantage for the business with my specialized industry knowledge.
#13. I want the chance to work exceptionally hard and make more money.
People leave companies for different reasons. My reason for leaving my current employer is my family. I am the provider and I need to provide.
For my family, I am driven to work exceptionally hard to create value for the company. I always seek opportunities to improve and take on more responsibility.
I am looking for a job that will value and reward my hard work. I am looking for a company that will allow me to provide my family with the kind of life they deserve.
Important Note with This Answer:
It is usually not a good idea to talk about money until the last stages of the job interview process. In jobs where people have to work extremely hard and are well-compensated for it, employers will usually understand someone who is motivated to earn more money. This is especially true if you are coming from a low-paying job.
#14. I want to relocate.
I have been working in my current role for several years and am now looking to relocate to be closer to a family member in this part of the country.
As I’ve grown older, the people in my life have become more important to me. Beyond this personal factor, I am particularly excited about the new challenges with a different job, and look forward to broadening my experience.
#15. I have had a change in family circumstances.
I left my last company because the need to care for a family member arose.
I wanted to help them. But in my previous role, I had to travel regularly and on short notice. This meant that I couldn’t help my family.
Loyalty is important to me. Though I did not want to leave my job, I know I made the right decision for those close to me by seeking this part-time role with your company. I would be so grateful for the opportunity to work for you.
#16. I was made redundant.
I have been at my company for several years and have a proven track record of achievement. However, the company has chosen to move in a different direction and my position has been made redundant. I have the full support of my manager in transitioning out of my current company and into a new role.
I hope I can find somewhere that I can become a strong contributor to the team for the foreseeable future.
#17. I am looking for a better work-life balance.
My family is very important to me. In my current job, I have missed many important events in the lives of my loved ones. So, the honest truth is that I am leaving my current job due to a lack of work-life balance.
I think it might help if I explain that having a strong family support system has been central to my career growth. Maintaining that balance is essential for me to continue on a successful path.
Important Note with This Answer:
Make sure you understand the role. If the role is the type where you are expected to respond to bosses, colleagues or clients 24/7, you should not expect work-life balance. If you are going to have massive projects on strict deadlines, that might also be a situation where there is not (or is not always) work-life balance. Only use this answer if having work-life balance is reasonable with the prospective role. (And don’t apply to the job if it is not and you need it.)
#18. I have health-related reasons.
Due to health reasons, I am regretfully leaving my current job.
I was recently diagnosed with a serious medical condition. With the responsibilities and demands of my current position, I need to step away from my position. Stepping away from my current workload and taking on a less demanding role will allow me time for medical treatment.
While this was not an easy decision to make, I believe that it is in the best interests of both myself and my employer.
Important Note with This Answer:
If this is your answer, be aware that an employer who offers group health insurance may be reluctant to hire you. This is because the cost of serious medical treatment will increase the costs to the employees for their health care under that group plan. If you have other health insurance and do not need the prospective employer’s health insurance, you should make that very clear.
#19. I have personal reasons.
I am leaving due to personal reasons. I have been looking for an opportunity that provides deeper engagement and challenges me beyond my current role, and I have decided the best decision for me and my family is to move on. While I enjoyed the team and colleagues I worked with at my former company, I felt it was time for a fresh start that would help further develop my skillset in a new environment.
Important Note with This Answer:
Use this answer as a last resort. No employer wants to be wondering what your “personal reasons” are and why you can’t disclose them. Employers want to be able to understand what they are taking on with hiring you, and this vague answer leaves them in the dark and at risk.
#20. I was asked to leave.
I believe honesty is the best policy, the embarrassing truth is that I was asked to leave the company after an internal incident. I have worked with the company to make amends for my actions and have grown exponentially in maturity and experience. I have learned that companies need all members of the team to work together equally and I am ready to do my part to be a product, valuable, and trusted member of a team to serve the team’s goal.
Important Note with This Answer:
If you have been fired or asked to leave it is likely that a potential employer will ask for details of the incident. It is ideal to have a trusted reference at the company who can provide these details for transparency. While admitting to being fired is difficult, having an employer discover you lied about it could result in being terminated again.
Career transitions can be difficult, whether changing jobs or switching to another profession entirely. It is a common question in any hiring process to ask candidates why they left their prior role. Regardless of your job background, you can pass this question with a strong answer.
The keys to a strong answer are to stay positive, be honest, and provide a genuine solid reason for your choice to change jobs.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.