In a job interview, you’re likely to receive a question about the reason for your job change.
You may have positive reasons for leaving like there is no room for advancement at your current company or you want to change fields. Or, you could have a negative reason, like you don’t get along with your boss, or you’re desperately bored by your job.
If you’re leaving because of a poor fit at your current position, you don’t want to be entirely honest in the interview.
Instead, re-frame your issue, suggesting you want a new challenge or are seeking out a company with an organizational mission that aligns with yours.
Alternatively, you could highlight that you are looking for a role that would let you better use your skills and experience.
Why do hiring managers ask the reason for your job change so often?
There are three key reasons:
- They want to know if you can commit.
If you’re leaving your current role after a short period, they may wonder about your longevity. “[If] you quit your job because you outgrew your role and you were underutilized, it indicates your interest in taking up higher responsibilities and challenges,” explains the Indeed editorial team.
- They’re curious if you burned bridges.
If you maintained relationships at your former workplace even as you were making a career shift, that demonstrates that you built strong relationships and handled your desire to move on from that role with care. This bodes well for your ability to do the same in your next position.
- They want to see how this job fits into your career trajectory.
In answering this question, don’t focus too much on why you’re leaving your current position.
Instead, briefly mention what you weren’t getting in that role before discussing what you’re looking for in this one.
So, if you are asked the reason for your job change, what should you say?
Talk about how your previous position helped you learn and grow before moving on to why you’ve outgrown it.
Always mention the positives in your last role.
You can discuss the elements you appreciated about the position, like your supportive colleagues or how you were given autonomy to choose your responsibilities. Specifically, mention the skills the position helped you develop.
Then, say how your previous position didn’t give you everything you were hoping for. For instance, you could mention how you wanted to manage a larger team, but when you discussed this with your boss, she wasn’t sure when a role with more supervisory expectations would come available.
What you were “missing” in your last job should clearly connect with the duties in the job you’re applying for.
Mention how this role fits into your career trajectory.
Next, transition into talking about how you see this role fitting into your long-term career objectives.
Perhaps the position would give you the chance to work more across departments or increase your sales potential. Then, you could say how you could see yourself developing at the company or moving into different roles in the field.
Here, make sure you’re focusing on the job description and your strongest skills.
“Evaluate your abilities and identify a few of your strongest attributes and transferable skills. Compare your abilities to those required to fulfill the job responsibilities and select those that best coordinate with the job requirements,” explains Glassdoor.
Afterward, talk about why you’re excited about the position and the company.
In this step, focus on why the position you’re interviewing for would be a better fit.
For instance, if you are seeking a new position because you weren’t paid well enough, you could say how the role would offer more compelling financial incentives for risk-taking. Or, if you were dissatisfied with your previous company’s mission, you could note your excitement about the possibility of working at a more socially-aware company.
To prepare for this question, be sure you’ve done your research about the company and read the job description clearly. If you can, try to work in mentions of the organization’s values and mission, as well as references to some of the compelling aspects of the job posting.
Here’s an example of how to put these elements into practice:
Answering the “Reason for a Job Change” Question
This question is so typical in job interviews because it tells hiring managers so much. Not only does it demonstrate your ties to your previous employer, but it also gives you the chance to demonstrate that you’re excited about the position and see it fitting into your career goals.
The key here is focusing on the positive, even if you’re leaving your previous job with less-than-happy memories. What’s more, make sure your response doesn’t dwell too much on the past but rather looks forward to your hopeful future at the company.