If you’re looking for a new job your new potential employer will almost always ask why you want to leave your current job.

When an interviewer asks this question they are trying to figure out:

  • What your relationship was like with your former team and
  • What your future career goals are

When you’re answering the goal should be to show that your values and plans align with this new company.

Give examples of how you are a people person and had good relationships within your last role, and whatever you do avoid any negativity. If you were made redundant or had to leave for a practical reason (move of location etc.) this is your time to explain this too.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Leaving Your Job

Good reasons to give for leaving a role include…

  • Focus on career growth and your career development

In a 2020 Cpl survey of over 1,000 candidates, better career progression was one of the top reasons given for wanting to leave a job. Chatting about your career goals and path will show your potential employer you are ambitious and are keen to learn and work hard.

For example, in my previous role, I worked for a small start-up and had grown as far as I could in that company. When joining Cpl, I explained that I was eager to grow in my career and that I felt I couldn’t grow any more in my current job, despite loving the team and the role.

If you have any gaps in your skillset, talking about career growth can show that you’re eager to learn and work hard to pick up any skills you don’t already have.

  • Culture fit

The culture of a company, in short, refers to the atmosphere, values and purpose of a company. If you feel your values don’t match those of your current company, this can be a good point to mention when asked why you are looking for a job change.

If this is why you’re looking to move, make sure you’ve researched the company you’re interviewing for and know what their culture is like. As a follow-up, you’ll likely be asked what has drawn you to your potential new employer’s culture and values so have an answer ready for this.

What not to say when and the interviewer asks, ‘why do you want to change jobs?’

Any kind of negativity can be a red flag. Never complain about previous colleagues or managers as this will ultimately reflect badly on you. If you did have challenges with colleagues, you can mention this but don’t make it personal.

For example, if communication was poor in within team this ok to say but don’t go into detail about how could never work well with x,y,z.

You should also avoid mentioning any confidential information about previous employers. Employers value loyalty and trust. If you break these for previous employers, it can be a sign that you’ll bring similar behaviours into your new role.

What about Money?

In a 2020 Cpl Survey on benefits and salary ‘not earning enough money’ was listed as the biggest challenge facing employees. Money is ok to mention, but it shouldn’t be your leading reason for leaving a job – especially in a first-round interview.

For example, “I’m looking to develop my career further and align my own values with a company like yours. I’m also hoping to join a company with better benefits and a higher salary than my previous role.”

If you’re going to talk money make sure you’ve done your research and have a clear idea of your expectations.

Overall when talking about why you want to leave your current job be honest, positive and align your reasons with the potential new role. If you’re nervous practice your response or chat through with your recruiter who’ll be happy to advise.

Looking for more job interview advice? Download our free job interview handbook or view the Interview section of our career advice centre.