It’s the moment in an interview that many job seekers fear. The interviewer asks, “Why are you leaving your current employer?”. The decision to leave a job isn’t an easy one. Your motivations and reasons to give for leaving a job can be complicated.
So, it makes sense that explaining why you are leaving your current employer, or the real reason for leaving your last job, can be difficult and full of landmines.
Present yourself in the best light
Whether your termination was involuntary or if you simply decided it is time for something new, here’s a quick way to approach your answer. The reason behind leaving your last job should present yourself in the best light. The best answer for leaving a job gives employers the information they need to hear.
First, think of your answer as having two parts
- One that is past facing
- One that is future facing
The first part is the one that is expressly asked, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” This initial part of your answer is where you briefly explain your motivations for the job change. This will give them a glimpse into your past work experience, why you left the last job(s), and the past experience you are moving away from.
Example of past facing reasons
Here are some reasons to give for leaving a job in the past:
- “Company restructuring eliminated the business line my previous job supported.”
- “I currently work at a small XYZ company where I am the only person in my function.”
If you keep this part of your answer succinct and stick to the facts, no matter how difficult your situation, you will keep yourself from sounding too negative.
The number one rule in answering this question, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” is to not speak poorly of your former or current employer. It will reflect poorly on you. The best answer for leaving a job does not leave possible employers worrying that you’ll be talking about them that way sometime in the near future. They do not want to be bad-mouthed as you explain your reason for leaving your last job to future employers.
Example of future facing reasons
Next, pivot to the second half of your answer, the future facing piece. As one of your reasons to give for leaving a job, tell the employer about your future goals. Explain what you are looking for and what you want to have in your next role.
The key to this part of your answer is to make it specific to the role and company with which you are interviewing. Let this part speak directly to why you want to work in this role. Show your strong motivation to work in this job:
- “Moving forward, I’m looking to expand my role doing XYZ for a company that values ABC and has a strong presence in the local community.”
- “I want to find a role that will allow me to work alongside other professionals in my field and help me progress in my chosen profession and to grow within a larger organization.”
Highlight the reasons you want to work with them
Make sure the reasons you give for leaving a job align with their organization’s size, structure, mission, or product. The point is when you are answering, “Why are you leaving your current employer?” you want to emphasize why you are a great fit throughout your interview. Include displaying how highly motivated you are to work with them.
In many cases, the deciding factor for an employer is “who seemed to want the job more”. So, it’s important that you highlight your motivation effectively. The best answer for leaving a job shows your employers that you desire to work for their company.