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3 Better Answers to: Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Role?

why do you want to leave your current role

If you’re interviewing for a new gig, chances are you’re not so keen on your current one.

Maybe it’s a terrible boss, tough commute, or being passed over for a promotion, but whatever it is, you want to leave.

At some point during the interview process, you’re going to get the question: “Why do you want to leave your current role?”

Even though you’d rather shout, “I hate my job!” there’s a better way.

Also read: How to Read and React to the Interviewer’s Body Language

Hiring managers want to know why you’re leaving to find any potential red flags, but also to see if you’re a good fit. (And if you’re honest.)

Here are three ways to answer: “why do you want to leave your current role,” without losing your chances of landing your dream job.

  1. You’re looking for the next great opportunity

When it comes time to talk about why you’re leaving, it’s important to put that choice in context with your overall career path. This can be tricky to do, especially if you’re exploring several potential paths; the idea is to create a story out of your life.

For some, that’s easy: they work their way up an established corporate ladder, such as rising to partner in a law firm or to VP of sales in a bigger organization. But for most of us, our career paths take unexpected turns. Many make lateral moves that can be tough to describe in one sentence for your recruiter.

The key is to find the common thread or interest. This may be a personality trait, like your curiosity; or a transfer of skills between jobs or industries, like having a knack for numbers. What matters is finding a thread that links together your experiences so you can make the case that this move is the logical next step—and that you’re ready for it.

  1. You learned something about yourself in your current role, and one of those things was your company wasn’t a good fit

Every job teaches you something, whether that’s the finer points of Excel or how to make lasting relationships with customers. But each role can also teach you about yourself and what you like beyond the everyday. In what kind of company culture do you thrive? How do people interact with each other? What is the reporting structure like?

As you start to master your current role, it may become clear that aspects of the company itself may be something you’d like to change. Maybe it’s trying out a small startup, or looking for a faster-paced industry. Framing your answer as seeking a stronger culture fit is a solid choice.

The catch? Make sure your answer fits with the culture of the company you’re applying for. Saying to a recruiter at a large Fortune 500 company that you learned you want to try something smaller might not go over so well.

Also read: 5 Things to do The Day Before an Interview

  1. You’ve always wanted to try [X]

Switching roles can be tough, even if it’s in your industry or similar company culture. This answer showcases your ability to navigate change and try new things. Be sure to fit your answer into the general context of your skills and experience so that the leap doesn’t seem forced.

Even if you’re radically changing jobs (such as applying for a teacher position after years in the tech industry), there’s a strong chance you’ve got the connecting thread in your drive to switch. In that example, as a manager, you teach your direct reports all the time. Or maybe you loved mentoring interns or recent graduates at your company. Those skills matter, and make sense, even if you’ve never actually taught in a classroom before.

Again, this answer requires a bit of homework. Make sure that you understand the role you’re applying for thoroughly and that your answer matches that role. You may need to do some digging in your interview itself by asking the hiring manager, “What is a typical day in this role like?”

No matter what, be honest

Even if those negative aspects of your current role play a big part in why you want to leave, find the positive. The only requirement? Be honest.

If your real answer is something like “Anything I can do to get myself out of this place,” then you may not be going about your job search the right way. Take a step back and think about what you really want to explore, discover, analyze, or create.

Then you’ll be able to frame your answer not by your own desire to leave, but by where you want to go.

Also read: The 6 Most Important Things You Need to Cover in a Preliminary Job Interview

About the Author

Kayla Lewkowicz hails from the small town of Hopkinton, MA, home of the Boston Marathon. A marketer by day and freelance writer by night, she's a passionate storyteller, reader, hiker, swimmer, runner, and eater. She loves connecting people and ideas and helping customers realize their full potential at Litmus Software. Like what she has to say? Subscribe to her blog or say hello on Twitter @kllewkow.