How to Answer: "Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?"

Most people's biggest interview fears include having to respond to classic hard-to-answer questions, including “Why are you looking to leave your current job?” It’s a completely understandable query—after all, most people don’t leave positions they love, so the reason for your job search isn’t always going to be a pleasant one. Whether you can’t stand your boss or are uninterested in your day-to-day responsibilities, there are ways to answer without throwing anyone under the bus or burning any bridges—something you should avoid no matter how tempted you are.

why leaving current job

“I’m Looking For More Opportunities To Learn”

This is a polite way to translate feelings of boredom or restlessness and shows recruiters you’re interested in developing new skills (which you may or may not need for the new position). It’s never a bad thing to say you like to learn, and most organizations want curious employees who have the initiative to expand their knowledge in the field. Learning on the job also opens you up to professional advancement opportunities, which can prove vital in the long run.

“I’ve Been Really Wanting A Position That Will Provide More (Or Less) Responsibility”

Obviously, the “more responsibility” version of this answer is a much easier sell. What recruiter doesn’t like to hear the candidate is looking to take on more duties? Just like looking for more opportunities to learn, this response works well if you’ve been feeling stagnant in your current position.  

If you’re looking for less responsibility, you’ll need to tread more carefully. Are you completely burned out by your current responsibilities? That’s understandable, and most potential employers will be sympathetic—however, focus less on how the job wore you out and more on what you’re looking forward to doing in the new role. Did you start out in operations but advanced to a management position, and you’ve been searching for ways to get back to your roots? This is one perfectly reasonable explanation for moving to a lower-level position. And never make it sound like you’re looking for a role where you can slack off.

“I Want To Dedicate Myself To A New Career”

Save this one for when you’re making a somewhat drastic career change. There’s nothing wrong with changing direction at any point in your career, but you should be prepared to answer questions about it—your potential employer will want to know what led you to make the switch and may need reassurance that you’re not going to suddenly change your mind once you’re hired in a completely new industry.

“I’ve Been Wanting To Improve My XYZ Skill”

Whether it’s a completely new skill you just couldn’t learn at your current job or you’ve maxed out your opportunities to further develop certain qualifications at your company, this is a great chance to show what you’ve mastered so far and the areas you’re looking to make progress. In either case, this answer will demonstrate that you’re willing to work hard in order to grow professionally. Ultimately, that’s what a potential employer wants to know—that you’ll be invested, give it your all, and the reason you’re seeking a new position is for growth, not to escape some sort of drama.

There’s no doubt “Why are you looking to leave your current job?” is one of those awkward—and difficult—questions (along with “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” “Why do you want this job,” and “Tell me about yourself”) but it’s helpful to keep in mind there’s not really a wrong answer as long as you don’t badmouth anyone in the process. Also, remember to ask some questions of your own—you’re evaluating your potential employer too!

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