How to Answer: Why Are You Leaving?

The sad reality of our current job economy is that, to make more money or to make a move up, in most cases you’re going to have to change companies. Sure, there are some ways to get promoted from within but many organisations are looking outside to find fresh talent.

Once you’re in an interview, you might be asked the most difficult question: Why are you leaving your current place of employment? It seems like a no-win scenario. If you say you want a pay increase, that may be a red flag that you’re not committed to the business and instead in it for a paycheque. So, how should you handle it?

Always look at the value you’re providing the new employer, and avoid putting yourself and your current employer in a bad light. Coming across as someone who is seeking more money means, rightly or wrongly, that you’ll probably leave at the first sign of more dollars.

When speaking about your existing role, talk about the limited advancement opportunities and how you’d like to grow. Look at where you’d like to be in a few years and outline a way to get there, showing how this proposed new employer can help you get there.

One answer people occasionally give for why they’re leaving is that the current job is not a “good fit.” Hiring managers may take that as sign that you couldn’t handle the job, didn’t fit socially, or are just about to be fired. There can be a negative connotation—be sure to showcase your value.

If you like the place that you’re at, don’t be afraid to show it. I loved working at ‘Company X’, but I was barely scraping by and that wasn’t going to change. So, when you want to advance your career you need to make that change. You can be critical without being negative.

Remember: if you’re still employed, you’re in a good position. Hiring managers can smell desperation. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and your skills to the company without fear of failure, because you are able to go back to a place that, while not where you want to be, is still a viable option.

This clip has some good, specific examples of ways to handle this question. Have you ever heard or given a great answer?

I’d love to hear how you have handled this question yourselves and share thoughts? Be sure to leave comments below.

Chris Wilson
Social Media & Digital Marketing Consultant 

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