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How to answer the interview question: why are you leaving your job?

Updated on Jul 19, 2021 29621 views
How to answer the interview question: why are you leaving your job?

Why did you leave your previous job? 

Just like you, many job seekers do not like to answer this question. Job seekers often fear this question because they want to avoid talking about their previous job.

Whether or not you left your previous job on a good note, you do not have to be scared of answering the question.


It is because we are going to show you not only how to answer the question, but how you can use it to sell yourself to the recruiter.

Before we work you through how to answer the question, let us look at why recruiters ask; why did you leave your previous job.


Why do interviewers ask; why did you leave your last job?

Contrary to what many job seekers think, recruiters don’t ask you why you left your last job just to make you uncomfortable.

Recruiters often ask this question for the following reasons:

They want to know if you left for a good reason

Many interviewers would love to know if you left your previous job for a good reason. If they find out that you left because you were not in a good mood that day, then they fear you may do the same thing if hired.

a. They want to know if you were fired.

Recruiters want to know if you were fired based on your performance, work attitude, or something out of your control like a business restructure plan, etc. 

b. They want to know if you burned bridges

They want to know if you still speak with your previous manager, or if you left the job with so much grief and bitterness.

c. They want to know if your skills and values match with theirs

If you left for a greater challenge or more responsibilities, it shows that your values are good and can be of benefit to them. If you left because you were bored or felt underappreciated, you might need to say it smartly to show that you are not difficult to work with.


How to explain your reasons for leaving your job

We know that you left your previous job for a reason, whether you were fired or you left for career progression.

Regardless of your reason for leaving, you have to explain it in a way that the recruiter would want to get you to join their team.

There are varieties of things that can make an employee leave their place of work, but we are going to talk about only the three common reasons why people leave their jobs.

These are the three common reasons that may make you leave your job:

a. You were fired

We know that this can be one of the most challenging reasons to explain during an interview. It does not have to be a disadvantage to you; you can use it to your advantage.

You can creatively explain why you were fired during your interview.

Being fired from your job is not always a bad thing, it can take you away from a situation where you are not needed to a place that you can thrive and be appreciated.

When you are explaining this to the interviewer, make sure you mention the things that you learned from your previous job. Talk about how the experience has helped and prepared you for the new position.

Always keep your response positive, and avoid bad-mouthing your previous employer.


b. You are leaving for a career progression 

This is one reason that recruiters and interviewers want to hear. If you are leaving for a career progression, then you can describe how your previous job has prepared you for the next steps in your career.

You should also give a positive outlook that shows your quest for career growth and development without badmouthing your previous employer.


c. You had no choice but to leave

We understand that it can be totally unbearable for you to remain at a place of work when things are not what you expect.

This can also be a difficult reason to explain to the interviewer, but you have to remain positive. Many people leave their jobs with no plan on the next step to take, but they know they have to leave the job.

There are several reasons why people make up their minds to leave their jobs no matter what. Maybe your work style does not align with that of your employer, or you don’t agree on many things.

Whatever the reason is, ensure your explanation shows:

  • You knew you were capable of doing more than your previous job allowed
  • You knew you would find an opportunity that you can use the skills that you have acquired.

These kinds of answers will portray you as a positive and confident person. Even if you left your previous job because your boss was driving you crazy.

Never appear bitter or angry. You can say that you are looking for a cultural fit where your skills are utilized.

No matter the reason you are leaving your job, always remain positive. These reasons will guide you when answering the question: why did you leave your job?


10 Reasons to help you answer: Why did you leave your last job?

We know that different reasons can make you decide to make you leave your job. The truth is that recruiters don’t care about what happened between you and your previous employer.

They want to know if you would be a great fit and if you have the abilities to do the job. You should always keep this in mind when answering the question.

To help you stay positive when answering this question, we have put together the top 10 reasons to help you answer the question well.


1. I have achieved all I want to achieve in this job, and I am looking for new challenges

This is one smart reason that you can give for leaving your job. Instead of saying something like, “I was bored at my previous job…”

You can talk about how you have achieved a lot in your previous job and how you would love to welcome new challenges. With this kind of reason, you will answer the question well and even give the interviewer a reason to hire you.

Sample answer

“I have achieved all that I can in my current role. I surpassed all the targets and even won an award for the best staff of the week several times. I think there is nothing left for me to achieve, so I look forward to taking on new challenges.”


2. I believe that my skills and abilities align more with this company than with my current job

Hardly will anyone blame you for leaving a job where your skills and abilities were underutilized. This reason also shows that you are a cultural fit for the job that you are applying for.

It also shows that you have good knowledge about the job responsibilities and expectations. Instead of saying “I hate that I don’t do what I love in my current job…”

You can give a reason that is more positive and shows that you are a great fit for the job you are trying to get.

Sample answer

“I enjoy my role in my current job, but I know that the job description for this role better suits my skills and my abilities. I also know that I am capable of doing more than what my current job requires of me, but I know that this job will not only let me use my skills but will allow me to learn more.”


3. This job is a great fit for me 

You can focus on how the job is a great fit for you, rather than complaining about how you got tired of your current job.

You can talk about what you have learned in your current job (give some examples), and how you are ready to put what you learned into use in this new opportunity.

This response shows that you have studied the job description well enough to know that your skills and abilities align well with the job requirement.

Sample answer

“I have learned a lot in my current job, but I know that this job will allow me to practice the knowledge that I have acquired both in and outside of my current job.”


4. The company is facing some major challenges 

Recruiters know that a company that is facing a financial challenge will not want to hire new staff members. The interviewer will also know you did nothing to deserve what happened.

Instead of mourning the loss of your job, you can give a response that explains what happened with a positive outlook.

Sample answer

“My current company is facing some major challenges, especially in their finances. The company is struggling and I happen to be one of the newly employed staff members so they had to let me go.

It was not an easy decision, but I understand that they had to make the decision.”


5. The company is undergoing a restructuring 

This is another good reason that you can give when responding to the question. Different companies restructure for various reasons.

Make sure you explain to the interviewer the reason for the restructuring without showing that you are angry about what happened. Always emphasize that the job you are applying for is a great opportunity.

Sample answer

“The company that I work for is being acquired by a bigger brand. The new company came with their staff members, so my role became not so relevant with the new structure.

This has made me recognize that I could open myself up to bigger challenges. When I saw this job advert, I knew that this is the opportunity that I have been looking for.”


6. The company is moving to a new location

explaining to the recruiter that you are leaving your current job because of your location is a good reason. It shows that you are concerned about your personal life and values.

Recruiters love to work with people that can achieve work-life balance with little or no influence from the organization.

Sample answer

“The company is currently relocating to another state where they have a larger customer base. I am already established here with my family, and I would not want to be away from them.”


7. Your values align more with your company

Recruiters always love to hire candidates that have the same value and purpose as the company. They also believe that this kind of candidate will be able to achieve organizational goals with ease.

Sample answer

“I have learned a lot in my current job, but my values did not align with that of the company. So I was not able to give my best.

Going through the information about your company, I know that my values align well with that of this company. This will help me give my best to this job.”


8. Your desire for career growth

The desire to move to a new level in your career is a common reason for leaving a job. Recruiters understand the need for career growth in a candidates’ career journey.

Sample answer

“I enjoyed my role, but I’ve come to a point where there are no longer growth opportunities on my team. Reading the job advert, I can see that there is a clear plan for career growth in this job.”


9. Career path change 

At different points in people’s careers, they can decide to change their career path or try new things. This is also a good reason for leaving a job.

Recruiters also understand that employers would not keep an employee that is not interested in what the company does.

Sample answer

“I am looking for opportunities in the fin-tech industry. I want to get more exposure in fin-tech, instead of just working as an accountant.

When I saw this advert, I knew that this is an amazing opportunity for me to explore the fin-tech space.”                                         


10. The duties of the role changed

If you are leaving your current job because the duties of the role have changed, the recruiter will understand that your reason is tangible. Employers know that job candidates look forward to growing their work experience and doing a job that does not allow you to build your experience is not good enough.

Sample answer                                                                                                                                                                                                     

“I am passionate about Human resources, but I noticed that in the course of my job my duties changed. The duties of my role changed from Human resources to marketing. I want to develop my skills and experience in human resources.

This is why I am excited about this opportunity. I have seen that this company has a team of human resource managers that I can learn from while adding value too.”


Top reasons you should not give when answering the question: Why are you leaving your job?

We have talked about the different reasons why people decide to leave their jobs. We know that there are reasons that you may not have control over, but you have to be careful about what you say.

Whether you find your job boring or dislike your boss, you should never tell this to your prospective employer (no matter how true your story is).

Always apply a positive approach even when you are talking about a negative experience or situation. These are some examples of the reasons you should not give:


Bad reason #1: I hate my boss

We understand that some employers are difficult to work with. You are not the first person to work with a difficult boss, but you don’t have to let that stand in your way of getting another job.

Instead of talking about how much you hate your job to a recruiter, talk about how the new company's value aligns with yours.


Bad reason #2: My job is boring

Many people that change jobs do so because of boredom. Working in one place for years can easily become boring.

Instead of saying loudly that your current job is boring, you can say that you are looking for new opportunities that suit your interests.


Bad reason #3: The Company has nothing to offer

Millions of people have dealt with working in a terrible place, but you don’t have to be blunt about it. Remember that you should not bad mouth your employer during an interview.

You never know the relationship between your current employer and your prospective employer. Always be careful not to burn the bridges that you may still need to climb up somewhere in your career journey.


Do you want to leave your current job for a new opportunity?

If you are ready to face a new challenge with a job opportunity, or you simply hate your job (don’t worry, we won’t tell)

We could have the perfect job for you. Sign-up here to create a job-seekers account on and get noticed by employers searching for talents every day. 


Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

3 Comment(s)

  • Dickson Ogola
    Dickson Ogola Aug 17, 2021

    Wow! Thanks myjobmag it is amazing I love your professional insights

  • Collins Ochieng
    Collins Ochieng Oct 21, 2021

    Explained in details. Thank you. 

  • Metrine Milele
    Metrine Milele Aug 17, 2022

    good insight

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