Your Best Job Search Information Source

For a Shorter, Smarter Job Search


Answer This Interview Question: Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job? (Plus Sample Answers!)

By Beth Colley

One question that many job seekers seldom prepare for during an interview is answering the question, “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

This question can make the most seasoned interviewee squirm a little because of the first word; why. A question starting with "why" immediately places you on the defensive.

If there is anything that is dissatisfying about your current position, this is where you might unwittingly share that information and unintentionally emit a negative vibe -- a very bad impression to make.

Acceptable Explanations for Why You Want to Leave

Some of the most common, and easiest to explain, reasons for leaving a job include:

  • Desire to take on more responsibility and grow in a career.
  • Desire to take on less responsibility.
  • Desire to relocate.
  • Desire a career change.
  • Company reorganization has led to dissatisfaction in the work place.
  • Desire a shorter commute to work.
  • Desire to improve work/life balance.

When answering this question, it’s easy to think about all of the things you dislike about your current job, but don't go there.


Look Forward in Your Response

Unless you are part of a well-publicized corporate implosion (e.g. Enron) or reorganization, stay positive in your response. Start by responding with “What I really like about this job and company that is different from my current one is…”

Take the opportunity to share what you’ve learned about the potential new company (demonstrating your interest in the opportunity). Talk about the environment and culture of this company, and how you feel it’s a strong match with your strengths and experience.

Demonstrating your buy-in to the company’s brand and culture is a good way to sell yourself as a match.

  • Talk specifically about the job for which you are currently interviewing.
  • Show excitement about the opportunity to learn some new skills and adapt to change.
  • Focus on your strengths and what you will bring to the employer.
  • Make sure you take time to describe your accomplishments, and all of the good that you’ve done for your current employer.

Most importantly, you want to demonstrate that you are dignified and professional, and will not talk disparagingly about another company or boss.

Don't Be Negative About Your Current Job or Employer

According to several resources, the number one reason most people voluntarily leave one position for another is because of a bad boss or supervisor. There may be a combination of reasons as to why you want to leave this job, but most all of them will likely tie back to poor management or a bad supervisor.

So, knowing that you shouldn’t say anything negative regarding a company or individual supervisor in an interview, how should you answer this question? If you speak poorly of a company or boss during an interview, what proof does the potentially new employer have to believe that you wouldn’t say the same thing to a customer or coworker in the new company? Everyone knows that would be bad for business.

Sample Answers

It’s best to avoid going down the slippery slope of discussing specifics regarding compensation, poor management, company finances, poor morale, or any other negative aspect of the job.

You can gloss over that kind of information by stating,

  • “One of the aspects that I like about the work I currently am doing is that I…"
  • "One of the things that has made it a little more challenging is that I’d like to have a platform where I could share my ideas and offer up ways to improve…(service, operations, technology, communication, etc…) "

Using a phrase like that still keeps the mood positive, but allows the employer to read between the lines. It also shows that you want to contribute positively to the success of your employer.

Bottom Line

If asked this question on an interview, remember to keep it positive, promote yourself and your accomplishments, and follow the old adage of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

About the author...

Beth Colley CEO/owner of Chesapeake Career Management Services has guided over 1,200 job seekers to career success since joining the careers industry in January of 2000. She is a Certified Master Resume Writer, a Certified Career Management Coach, and a Certified Brain Based Success Coach and an active member of Career Directors International, The National Resume Writers Association, and Career Thought Leaders.


Guide to the Most Common Interview Questions (with Sample Answers)

The Most Common Interview Questions

Questions About You: Questions About Them:

Handling Special Situations in Job Interviews


Interview Follow Up:

More Information About Successful Interviews:

Find Jobs in all states
Jobs across the state - not available elsewhere on the Web. Only here.

Over 50? Want work?
Real employers who value your experience are looking for you here.