This can be the most daunting question in your interview if you haven’t prepared for it. It’s a typical question that interviewers ask as they’re interested in all of the career transitions on your resume. Your response will say a lot about you, your work ethic, and if you’re a good fit for the new role.
Although it may be a common question, it doesn’t mean it’s not a challenging one.
𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒅𝒗𝒊𝒄𝒆: 𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒕𝒉! 𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒌 𝒂𝒍𝒘𝒂𝒚𝒔 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕, 𝒆𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒊𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚’𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒄𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒔!
Be honest in your response while highlighting all of the positives. The goal is to be honest without bringing any negatives into your reasons of quitting. You want to answer in a way that the interviewer “gets it”, a valid and reasonable answer. Your goal is to show that you’re not a quitter, you made a lateral move, and you did the best thing for your career and personal development. But lets say you actually do have some negative reasons of why you quit, again, the key is to turn those negatives into positives. We want the last thing they hear to be the best thing they hear.
Perhaps you left your job because you and your new Director didn’t see eye to eye. Here’s a response example we recommend: “𝑻𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒉𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒕, 𝒂 𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝑫𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒐𝒓 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒉𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌 𝒔𝒕𝒚𝒍𝒆𝒔. 𝑨𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆, 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒈𝒐 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒅𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒐 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒇𝒊𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒆 𝒔𝒐 𝑰 𝒅𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒗𝒆. 𝑯𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓, 𝑰 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝒏𝒖𝒎𝒃𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔, 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒔 𝒂 𝒈𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒓, 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒍𝒚 𝒂𝒅𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕, 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒃𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒂𝒃𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔.”
Not bad, right?
What if you’re still working but about to quit? We’re glad you asked.
Here’s your moment to shine! This is the perfect time to sell yourself, highlight your career objectives and compliment the opportunity the hiring company is offering. Examples of how you can answer the question of why are you leaving: I’ve been looking for a role such as this and this opportunity was presented to me, explain how you think it’s a great fit, your confidence and ability to excel in this role with your expertise and experience, how it’s an ideal match for your qualifications, how this is opportunity fits perfectly in your 3-5 year goal plan...the list goes on!
We mentioned before how important it is to ℕ𝔼𝕍𝔼ℝ burn bridges with a previous employer, simply for times like this. The interviewer may want to know are you and the company still on good terms, did you prepare them for your resignation, in what ways did you make it a smooth transition for the company? How would you describe the rapport between you and your previous manager? Which brings us to our next point: never, ever, speak poorly about companies, management or colleagues. Your response will become personal and emotional and we want to avoid that. So feel free to discuss things like the direction of the *business*, core values and the mission that you didn’t agree with but not your *personal* feelings towards someone. It’s business, nothing personal! ;)
While we try to avoid getting too personal, sometimes those to-the-point answers actually reflect your personal life and are acceptable reasons. Such as:
“My commute to/from work hindered my time with family.
The long hours and demanding expectations conflicted with family time. I am looking for a healthy balance between work and life.
I am seeking a new role and company where our values and missions align.
I am interested in a new field where I can use my skills in a different capacity than previous roles.
My professional growth was at a standstill in my department/role.”
𝙿𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚙𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚎𝚜.
You’ll get to the point where you’re confident and saying “that’s a great question” instead of “that’s a tough question.” Remember, your response should be honest, clear and ties back to why the job you’re applying for is a better fit.
Did we miss anything? How did you or would you answer this question in your interview?