How honest is too honest?
This interview is going quite well. You’re pretty sure you’ve aced every question, and you can really see yourself working at this company. But then your interviewer turns to you, smiles, and asks the dreaded question: “One last question before you go: Why are you leaving your position at XYZ company?”
Your heart starts beating a mile a minute. Why are they asking this? Should you tell them your manager is terrible? Should you mention the toxic work culture? Maybe that’s not even the problem, and all you want is a change of pace—is that answer too boring?
If this situation sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In a recent Job Journey survey, 13% of respondents wanted help with this question. And it’s easy to see why—there are too many ways to answer it.
That makes it all the more important to come prepared with your answer well before you arrive for your interview. There is no one-answer-fits-all solution, but we’ve provided a few of our favorites below. Feel free to mix and match to find something that works for you.
- “There weren’t many opportunities for advancement at XYZ company, and I’m ready to move on to the next phase of my career.”
You might be tempted to say something like “they wouldn’t ever give me a promotion so I quit,” but that doesn’t reflect very well on you as an employee. Keep things simple, and avoid complaining about your current position. Note your love of XYZ company, and explain why you think you have a future at ABC company.
- “There was a bit of a cultural mismatch between myself and the company. I just realized I wasn’t a good fit.”
This is a polite, kind way of saying that you didn’t get along with your boss or weren’t a fan of the direction the company was headed. If you’re prompted to explain further, focus on how the company you’re interviewing with is a great cultural fit for you, rather than whatever went wrong at your old job. This is also a great answer to build off of if your old company was just a toxic place to work (nepotism, corruption, etc.).
- “I wasn’t doing the type of work I want to do, and I’m incredibly excited for the possibilities with this job at XYZ company.”
This answer is for those of you contemplating a career shift, or folks who liked a certain aspect of their old job, but couldn’t expressly pursue that aspect fulltime. Focus on how your skills make you a brilliant candidate for this type of work, and how your old company didn’t let you meet your potential.
It’s important to note these are just a few of the many ways you can explain why you left your current job. Think of them as launchpads to build on when crafting your own unique answer.
Don’t be afraid of being honest; just make sure to focus on the positive possibilities of your career with the new company, not the trials you suffered at your old position.
For more in our Answering the Interview Question series check out:
Do you have any other ways to answer this question? Let us know in the comments section below!