It's a question that almost every job seeker will be asked at some point during an interview: "Why are you leaving your current role?" It's natural for an interviewer to want to know this. They might be curious to know if you have been fired, or if you are simply looking for new opportunities. And if you are looking for new opportunities, why do you need to look elsewhere? Why aren’t you being promoted within your own company?
For some, it can be a difficult question to answer. But with a little thought and preparation, you can craft a response that will reflect well on you and help you move one step closer. Preparing for the difficult questions in advance will help you to feel less nervous in an interview and offer more compelling answers.
Here are some tips on how to answer the question, "Why are you leaving your current role?"
Be honest: The interviewer is likely to find out eventually, so it's best to be upfront from the start. If you were let go, state that directly. If you're looking for new opportunities, explain what you're hoping to find in a new role.
Avoid badmouthing your current or previous employer: This will reflect poorly on you and make the interviewer wonder if you'll do the same to them one day. If you were let go, simply state that without going into too much detail. And if you're looking for new opportunities, focus on the positive aspects of what you hope to achieve by looking elsewhere.
Use this opportunity to sell yourself: If you're looking for new opportunities, this is your chance to sell yourself and explain why you would be a great fit for the role you're interviewing for. Explain what you can bring to the table and how your skills and experience can benefit the company.
Focus on the future: No matter the reason for your departure, focus on the future rather than dwelling on the past. Explain what you're looking for in a new role and how you hope to grow and develop in your career. This will show that you're motivated and have a positive outlook.
Answering the question, "Why are you leaving your current role?" can be difficult, but it's important to prepare well so that you aren't caught off guard with this difficult question.
What to say if you were fired
If you were fired from your previous role, don't try to conceal this. Be honest and upfront about what happened. State the facts without going into too much detail or badmouthing your former employer. This will show that you are taking responsibility for what happened and have learned from the experience.
Employers will be able to see through obvious lies about why you were fired, and they will also be asking your former employer for a reference, so you don't want to spin a yarn that will eventually get you in trouble.
What to say if you’re looking for a new challenge
If you're looking for new opportunities, focus on the positive aspects of what you hope to achieve by looking elsewhere. Explain what you can bring to the table and how your skills and experience can benefit the company. This will show that you're motivated and have a positive outlook.
This is your chance to show that you know a lot about the company and the role available. It’s a chance to match your key competencies to the job description and show how working for this company would help you to reach your goals more than anywhere else.
It’s common for people to look elsewhere if they have reached the top of their department and they have nowhere else to go. Perhaps you are looking for a role within a larger company so you have more people to learn from. Or perhaps you are looking to work for a smaller company so you can specialise in your role. You can use this as an opportunity to share what attracted you to the role and how you think working for the company will help to support your career.
What to say if you quit
If you quit without lining up another job, your new employer might want some reassurance that you aren't going to make a habit of it. In this case, focus on your long-term career goals and how this new role will help you to achieve them. Explain that you are committed to the new company and see it as a place where you can grow and develop over the long term.
Irrespective of the reason behind your departure, always remember to answer this question in a way that reflects well on you. And do so in a way that doesn't cast your former employer in too negative of light. Remember that your industry is probably smaller than you think, and people talk.
Answering this question well will show that you are a professional who is looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. It will also give the interviewer a better understanding of your motivations and career aspirations.
What to say if you’re taking legal action against your former employer
On rare occasions, you might be suing your former employer. In this instance, you probably won’t be able to discuss what happened with prospective employers. This could make employers nervous, but it’s better to be honest and let them know what is happening rather than risking them finding out another way.
You are well within your rights to take legal action against an employer if you have been the victim of discrimination, so don’t let this deter you from seeking new opportunities. It would be sufficient to say that you are pursuing legal action because of discrimination, you shouldn't need to go into any further detail. This could complicate the process of securing a reference, so seek advice from your solicitor about how to proceed.