It’s a minefield if your mind immediately goes to places like: My boss is a micromanager. The politics are toxic. The company is broken.
How can you answer this question in a job interview without sounding like a whining bad-mouther?
Some reasons for leaving are easier to talk about:
- You like your current job, and are only interviewing because you saw another opportunity too exciting to resist.
- You are successful in your current job but wish to make a career change that your current company can’t offer you – e.g., a shift into a different industry.
- There is no path for advancement from your current role.
- You need to relocate to a different city or state, and your current company can’t transfer you.
It’s more difficult if you’re leaving because of a problem – that the company is poorly managed, your boss is difficult, or such. It’s ironic that while the number one reason most people quit jobs is because of their bosses, that’s the last reason you can safely talk about in an interview. And it’s poor practice to criticize your current company, especially if you would be revealing issues that are not publicly know
Here’s an approach that will help.
When you really think about it, there are probably several reasons you’re leaving, not just one. Look at the four examples in the bulleted list above – do some of those apply? And what else? Make a list of all the reasons – “Why will I leave thee? Let me count the ways!” – and then craft an answer focused on the reasons that present you in a good light.
Now, you’re still basically talking about a negative – that you want to leave your job – so surround it with positives: the successes you have had there, what you have learned, and the reasons why you’re excited about the new opportunity.
“This job was my first foray into tech, and that was a great step for me. I’ve learned a lot about what customers want in an app. And I’ve learned that while I’m good at project management, I’m even better at understanding the customer. I want to move into a customer success role like this one. This opening is ideal for me because…”
(And they never need to know about your boss’s lousy management style!)
Watch for future posts focusing on some of the other toughest interview questions, such as “Were you ever fired? (And why?)”