Are you about to start looking for a new job or are currently attending interviews? You can expect to be asked a range of interview questions, but there’s one in particular that can be difficult to answer, which is, “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Without preparation and using the right approach, this question can quickly steer an interview into negative territory – especially if the reason is a difficult one.

No matter your reason for leaving a job, you can present the answer in a positive light. How? Use our hints and tips to answer this question confidently and show hiring managers why you’re a great fit for the role.

Reason for leaving: You were made redundant

Redundancy usually isn’t a reflection of your past performance, so you shouldn’t worry too much about answering with this explanation. Just ensure that you give some background and explain why you were made redundant, while maintaining a positive outlook and emphasising your enthusiasm to get back into work. Avoid dwelling on your redundancy – the interviewer or hiring manager will understand the difficulties and impact of a redundancy so avoid becoming emotional or sharing your frustrations about the situation.

Example answer: “The company was downsizing and made a large group of people redundant across multiple departments; unfortunately I was one of those people, but I’m now very much looking forward to taking on a new opportunity with [company].”

Reason for leaving: You were fired

This interview question is tougher to answer if you were fired. Deception and dishonesty cannot be used here – you’ve just got to be honest and tactful. And there’s no point lying, as the hiring manager will check your work history and conduct reference checks so lying will only make things awkward and ruin your chances of getting the role.

There’s a lot to be said for people who just tell the truth – so explain the circumstances, take accountability and make sure you can highlight how the experience has helped you grow into a better person. Making mistakes isn’t so bad, as long as you can show you’ve learned from it. One thing you shouldn’t do is bad mouth your old boss, company, or colleagues.

Example answer: “Unfortunately I was let go, and in retrospect, I understand that my manager had different expectations of me than what was communicated as part of my job description. Although I excelled in the customer service aspect of the role, my expertise is not in direct selling. I have learned from this experience and I’m ready to better leverage my ability to build positive long-term relationships with customers.”

Reason for leaving: You disliked the company or the culture

Disliking the company, your colleagues or your boss are legitimate reasons for quitting your job. But it can be difficult to explain this without sounding like you could be hard to work with, a whinger or a negative person all round.

Instead of sounding negative, focus on the positive aspects of this particular role: like how you are up for a new challenge, you want to work in a different industry and this one really appeals to you, or you want to work somewhere with more career progression.

Example answer: “Although I gained a lot of valuable experience in my previous role and built some great relationships with colleagues, I’m now looking for an opportunity to grow and develop at a company with values that are more closely aligned with my own.”

Reason for leaving: Personal circumstances

Changes in life are often a motivator and big reason for a job change. Have a child on the way? You might be looking for something more flexible. Have you moved recently? You might want to work somewhere with an easy commute. Are you looking to purchase a property? You might be looking for a bigger opportunity and better pay to help fund the kind of lifestyle you want in the future.

All of these scenarios are legitimate reasons to leave a role, but you still must ensure you’re careful when explaining it in a job interview. You don’t want any potential employers to think you’re just chasing a larger pay packet to pay off an enormous mortgage, or that you expect to finish up at 3pm every day to go and pick kids up from school, without somehow making up the remaining hours of your employment.

Example answer: “Although I gained a lot of valuable experience and really enjoyed my time in the role, I’m now looking for an opportunity to grow and develop at a company that is closer to home/offers more flexibility/provides me with a clear career progression path.”

Looking for your next job opportunity? Explore our open roles or get in touch with one of our Michael Page’s recruitment specialists.

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