Reasons For Leaving a Job and How to Explain Them in An Interview

Explaining the reasons for leaving a job can be the most critical moment in any job interview.

There is a great deal of information to be gleaned by the reasons you choose to share. The potential employer will wonder if those reasons will ever apply to the position you’re interviewing for on that very day. 

Your demeanor in presenting your reasons for leaving a job is also crucial in getting the job interviewer on your side.

Is your manner succinct, straightforward, and professional? The way you answer a question can sometimes be more important than the question itself.

In this article, we’ll reveal the best answers you can use to explain your reasons for leaving a past or current job. Thinking about the reasons ahead of time is essential in preparing yourself to answer a question that will no doubt come up at some point in your interview.

Why the Question “What are the Reasons For Leaving Your Job?” is Asked

Potential employers want to know that the investment they put into new hires will benefit them financially. There is often a great deal of money spent to train new employees and teach them new skills. 

Time and effort is also expended to integrate them with other staff members, and production lag time to completely get the new person on board. No company wants to take a chance on someone who has left a job because there weren’t enough casual days or they didn’t like the leave policy of the job.

Answers to what some current employers call “job hopping” can be pivotal in their decision-making process. Millennials are known for their lack of engagement and are prone to leaving a job faster than any other age group. 

Studies show that nearly half of all millennials born between January 1983 and December 1994 will quit their current jobs within two years, with 25% of those already having left a previous job the past two years before that.

Be ready with your responses to assure a hiring manager that you are worth the risk and that you have every intention of staying with the job.

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?”

There is a subtle but distinct difference in listing reasons why you left a previous job and explaining why you want to leave your current job.

It’s difficult to manage expectations from your current employer while requesting a change in status of your current job at the company. Depending on the employer, a request for better pay or different management may turn into a potential confrontation that could get you fired. 

As you craft your answer to why you’re seeking to leave your current position, you should give some thought to coming up with a response that explains what’s going wrong at the present job while assuring the hiring manager that those circumstances won’t repeat themselves in your new job.

“My department brought in a new job manager and significantly changed the entire structure of the company. I felt it was the right time to leave. My research shows that your hierarchical structure is the type of environment I thrive in.”

If you are secretive during interviews, employers will have no clue that you are dissatisfied with your current position. Whether it’s your level of responsibility or your salary or wage, hiring managers may view this as being less than honest. They may wonder why you chose not to approach your current employer directly and request changes, rather than running away from an uncomfortable or dissatisfying work environment.

Common Reasons For Leaving A Job

There are many reasons you might leave a job but here are the most common reasons.

Downsizing/Reorganizing/Layoffs

During an economic downturn, it’s relatively easy to explain that through no fault of your own, the company was downsizing, restructuring, or shutting down completely.

Passed Up For Promotions/Raises

If you did not receive a raise that you thought you had earned, potential employers will consider your responses to glean what type of an employee you are. What did you do to set yourself up for the promotion or to keep you in the running for a raise? Did you put in the extra time learning a program? Did you handle jobs others refused to tackle? Not meeting the challenge of discussing things with your previous employer can be a red flag for some recruiters.

Seeking a Better Balance Between Home and Work Life

This response can be tricky and awkward. It’s problematic because you want to show that your personal life and family is important, without sounding like you will refuse to work overtime or come in on an occasional weekend. Hiring managers want to know that they can count on you during crunch time.

“My last manager insisted we work alternate weekends at different sites, which proved difficult for me. I’m looking for new challenges where overtime is offered and not consistently mandated.“

Desire To Change Career Paths

It is increasingly common for people to explore several different jobs and careers until they find the right fit.

Whether you want to go back to school, relocate, or venture into a new job industry, such valid reasons for leaving a previous job are understandable, and often admirable.

Career Growth and Advancement

The actual reason that more than 70% of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave their jobs is directly related to the lack of resources or advancement opportunities in their current role.

“I’m looking for a new job opportunity that doesn’t exist at my current company. I want to explore more leadership roles where I can develop my interpersonal skills.”

“My job is fulfilling, but I’ve gone as far as I can in my department and I’ve come to a point where I feel a new opportunity would better serve my needs.”

“As the next step in my career, I’m looking to handle high-level accounts from engagement through acquisitions. We don’t have the resources at my current job.”

Creative Ways to Frame Your Reasons For Termination

Finding creative ways to frame a job loss is not always easy. Understandably, it may be a cause for anxiety when it comes time to explaining this during an interview.

The key here is to remain positive and never disparage your previous manager or coworkers. Be truthful and don’t go into too much detail.

It’s best never to lie during the interview process as potential new employers have ways of finding things out. Prepare a concise answer to explain why you were let go by your former employer and explain the decision by your employer, or yourself, to move on. 

Always direct the interviewer’s attention to why you’re a good fit for the position at hand.

“The advanced programming skills I’ve learned during my time off will integrate beautifully with the stated direction your company wants to grow in.”

Try not to use the terms “fired” or “terminated.” if possible, consider using “involuntary separation.” You should leave the specific reason for termination off of your resume.

However, be prepared for questions. The hiring manager may want to delve into the details behind the end date listed on your job application.

“There were significant disparities in the way I wanted to manage my team and the method my supervisor preferred that I use. The role in this position is far better suited to my skill set.”

“It’s important to me that clients are completely satisfied with my work, before moving on to the next call. The amount of time I spent on the phone with customers was viewed as a detriment and not inline with company guidelines for efficient customer service.”

Are There Good Reasons for Leaving a Job? 

There are always valid reasons for leaving a job, with some better than others.

Professional growth, as in more advancement opportunities, is the number one reason hiring managers hear most often. It is expected that good employees will want to further their career and try out different size companies, if not new job industries altogether. 

Continual desire to learn and advance is seen as a positive attribute for potential employees. Be sure to convince your job interview committee that the possibilities for advancement at their company would make it a great place to work for many years to come.

Conclusion

Finding ways to explain your reasons for leaving your last job during the interview process is far less stressful if you take the time to examine why you left or are planning to leave a particular job.

Is it in line with your ultimate career goals? Did the company provide concrete training and tools for professional development? Did the organization promote diversity and inclusion? 

If you take the time to evaluate and explore the fundamental reasons behind your recent or planned departure, you can weave those details into your answers to job interview questions.

Remember that how you answer a question is just as important as the answer itself. Be direct, confident, and clear in your answers. 

Interview questions are designed to look for forthright answers that make sense. Your presentation and demeanor will go a long way in signaling to the hiring manager that you will use that same professionalism with future clients or customers.

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