This question is asked in every interview. “Why are you leaving your current business, “why are you looking to move on from your current position”, the interviewer wants to know what’s wrong with your current employer and why you’re not happy in your current job.
Variations on this question include
- Why are you looking for a new position now? This is for employed candidates considering a job change.
- Why did you leave your most recent position? This is for candidates who are not currently employed but have past experience. Maybe you quit you last job or you were laid off.
- Why are looking for a new position now?
This is for candidates who are currently employed. There are many good reasons to leave a position – some that should be discussed in a job interview and some that absolutely should not. The general rule is that you should always be leaving to move forward a better opportunity.
Your interviewer wants to feel like her company is wooing you away from your current employer. The ideal answer from their perspective. You are only thinking because the new opportunity will help you to move ahead in career.
“I have been at my company for three years now and have learned a lot from working with some amazing salespeople. I worked my way up to regional sales manager 18 months ago and my region has beaten our sales projections by at least 25% each quarter. However, I am starting to feel like I need some new challenges. This position really appeals to me because it would allow me to manage a bigger team and sell more innovative products.”
First, this candidate reminds the interviewer that he has had a respectable tenure at his firm and has been promoted. He talks about his success in the role (it’s always good to look for opportunities to discuss your accomplishments). Next, he shares a positive reason for wanting to leave — he wants to take on new challenges, he wants to stretch himself. He follows that up by talking about how the position at hand would be an exciting challenge for him.
Some candidates get this answer halfway right — they say that they are looking for new challenges and leave it. Without some details around that how you have conquered the past challenges and why the new job would present exciting new ones, you can come across as too general and unconvincing.
- Why did you leave your most recent job?
If you are currently not employed, your answer to this question is even more important. Employers make assumptions about unemployed candidates that if you’re so great, why you haven’t got a job yet.
I believe this unfair bias. In the current economic situation, even fantastic employees lose their job and it takes a time to line up a new one.
However, it’s good to be aware that this bias exists when addressing the question of why you are available. And if you have been between jobs for a long period of time, you should be prepared to describe the proactive steps you have been taking to improve your skills — training, volunteer work or consulting projects.
There could be three kinds of issues:
A) You were laid off,
B) You were fired &
C) You left voluntarily.
A) You were laid off
Unfortunately, the company was not doing well with their business, a major client went off business and that had a major effect on revenues. As a result, they had to eliminate some positions.
In this scenario, that the candidate lost the job for reasons beyond his control. You can always give the reference of your former manager to back up your claim.
B) You were fired
If you are fired for performance reasons, avoid putting all the blame on others. For example, of the job requirements or expectations changed after you were hired, make that clear. Sometimes, expectations change as a result of new management, budget cuts, or a shift in strategy.
Whatever the reason for your departure, find a way to highlight lessons learned from the experience. If you were fired, take every opportunity to assure the interviewer that it was an isolated incident and that you would not be a risky hire.
C) You left voluntarily
If you left a job voluntarily, follow the guidance provided in explaining why you want to leave a current position. You should emphasize the positive reasons that prompted you to leave — seeking new challenges, pursuing new experiences, pursuing a dream job, taking on new responsibilities.
Last but not least, if you’re uneasy about the future of the business, there’s nothing wrong with telling an interviewer you’re “worried about the direction the company is taking”. Similarly, if you’ve been made redundant – just be honest and tell the interviewer the truth. Remember, times are hard at the moment – it’s not your fault you were made redundant and it shouldn’t reflect negatively on your career in any way.
If you have any new suggestions and ideas, do share with us in the comment below.