How Should I Answer the Interview Question 'Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job'?

Answer honestly but don't burn any bridges in the process
Marciano Bagnoli, Quality Manager, Georgia-Pacific LLC
Marciano Bagnoli, Quality Manager, Georgia-Pacific LLC

Answer honestly, but do not bad-mouth your previous employer. If you had a bad boss, or didn’t agree with management decisions, do not recall the nasty details to your interviewer. It's out-of-scope and is unprofessional. Instead frame your transition in terms that highlight the mutual benefit. You would like to take on more responsibility, would like to join a company that shares your values. It is evident by virtue of the interview that something caused you to leave your job, use your goals to explain why.

Moji Bonakdar, Senior Director, Chemical Medicines, USP
Moji Bonakdar, Senior Director Chemical Medicines, USP

Be honest without being too detailed. Be clear about your reasons for exiting, which could include:

  1. Desire to take on more responsibility, advance or change your career
  2. Desire to relocate or to seek a better commute
  3. Desire to gain a new skill or grow a current skill 
  4. Seek a better work-life balance

Take the time to formulate a response that shows your career motivations align with the organization.  

Heinz Plaumann, CEO and Co-Founder, Quantum Qik Careers
Heinz Plaumann, CEO and Co-Founder, Quantum Qik Careers

Try something like “Each of us is driven by their passion and purpose. Each of us has a hunger to learn and develop themselves every day. My most recent position afforded me these opportunities, but I feel I have now reached a plateau. My ambition to continue my own growth and development motivates me to explore new options, to learn more, to contribute in different ways. That is why I left my former position and have great hope and aspirations for this new one!”

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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