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How to explain your reason for leaving a job

CareerBuilder | May 10, 2022

Reasons for leaving a job

Check out these helpful tips for talking about your reason for leaving a job during an interview, plus several example answers for you to review beforehand.

At some point, nearly every professional leaves a job or transitions to something else. If you're one of these professionals and you're looking for a new job, be ready to talk about why you left your previous employer in an interview. Check out this guide for talking about your reason for leaving a job with some sample responses to get a good idea of how to handle your next interview.

Why do interviewers ask about your reasons for leaving a job?

Interviewers want to know if you have a valid reason for leaving your last employer, since the reasons behind your choice can give some insight into your experience and past performance. No matter what your reason is, you'll want to explain the situation from an objective point of view and highlight how you're going to meet employers' needs. Check out some common variations of this type of question:

  • "Why did you leave your company?"
  • "Why are you looking for a new position?"
  • "Why are you considering leaving your current job?"

Ultimately, your reasons for cutting ties with your previous employer are going to be unique to your situation, but a lot of professionals leave their current jobs for many different reasons, including:

  • Moving to a new area.
  • Looking for a higher salary.
  • Looking for advancement opportunities.
  • Seeking more opportunities for skill development.
  • Finding roles better suited to qualifications.
  • Experiencing burnout in the career field.
  • Wanting to explore a new industry.
  • Downsizing and layoffs.
  • Looking for a job with more responsibility.
  • Getting fired.
  • Looking for a more positive work environment.

How to answer 'What's your reason for leaving your job?"

Check out some helpful tips for answering this question:

Provide a clear explanation

Be clear about your reasons for looking for a new job. Talk about your personal values, career goals, and the specific things that you feel are important to your professional growth. Even if you're trying to find a higher salary, be clear about why a higher income would be appropriate for your skills and qualifications.

Be honest and stick to the facts

Even if you were fired, be honest during the interview. Bring up why you were fired and stick to the facts without getting emotional. After you talk about the reason you were let go, you can discuss how you're making improvements. This gives the interviewer a better idea of how you handle setbacks and what you do to stay motivated.

Speak positively about your career move

Stay positive and never talk about your past employer in a negative way. Even if you quit because of burnout, a toxic office culture, or because you just didn't work well with some of the other employees, don't talk about your personal feelings. Keep your reply objective, showcase your best traits, and shift the focus back to how you'll contribute to the new job.

Best ways to answer interview questions about leaving a job

Relocation

"I recently relocated from another state and am excited to apply what I've learned in my past role to this job. I'm confident that my skills and qualifications are a perfect fit for your team."

Higher salary

"I just received my Project Management Certification, and I'm looking to advance to a role that pays what this qualification typically demands. I see that your company supports continuous professional development with fair compensation, and I'm excited to apply what I've learned to this job."

Professional development

"I'm highly motivated and have been interested in learning new technology skills; however, my employer currently doesn't have any plans for professional development. I'm excited to be applying for this job because I feel your professional development and skill training programs will help me develop the knowledge I need to advance in my career."

Experiencing burnout

"During the pandemic, my company went through many changes, with some leading to unrealistic expectations. With the continuous downsizing and lack of support, I started to feel burnt out. That's why I'm excited to explore this opportunity, as the role aligns with my goals and professional values."

Being laid off

"My company experienced some major budget cuts during the pandemic that unfortunately resulted in the phase-out of my department."

Getting fired

"Unfortunately, my last job wasn't the greatest fit for me. After a few discussions with my employer, we ultimately decided it was best to part ways. Since then, I've taken time to make improvements to my work-life balance, and I'm motivated to further develop my expertise in this role." (Read more about getting fired here.)

More flexible schedule

"After my company went remote during the pandemic, I developed a highly productive schedule and work routine at home. The company decided to move back to the office entirely, and I don't feel that move would be effective for my performance. I love that your company offers flexible scheduling and is more supportive of a gradual transition back to in-person work."

If you're ready for a career change or a new challenge, we could have the best job for you. Browse resources in our Job Support Center to find the most up-to-date open positions across a large range of industries. Create a profile here on CareerBuilder so employers can find you. Then practice your interviewing techniques so you can find the environment where your talents shine.


More career advice from CareerBuilder

Looking for more ways to prep for your interview? Check out these types of interviews and how to ace them.

Brush up on your interview skills with the perfect example answers to 10 common questions.


Ready to leave your job for something new?

If you’re ready for a new challenge (or you simply hate your boss, we won’t tell) we could have the perfect job for you. Our Job Support Center is regularly updated with open roles across a huge range of industries, so get practicing your interview techniques and find a place where you can thrive.

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