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19. How to answer "Why do you want to leave your current job?". 


As a job interview coach I cover a lot of ground on how to answer questions in an interview, as you would expect! However, while some questions are relatively simple and straightforward to answer, others are more complicated and can trip people up.

Do you know how to answer questions in an interview without sounding awkward or vague? For example, one of the interview questions that I get asked how to answer is: "Why do you want to leave your current job?"

What would your interview answer be?

Many do not know how to answer interview questions, such as this, and they stumble around and say little of merit.

It can be especially difficult if the interviewee is in a small industry where everyone knows everyone else. It can be equally troublesome if the person is seeking to move from one department to another in the same organisation. And, of course, it is very hard if the person is desperate to escape from a dreadful job but doesn't want to bag their present hospital, company, agency or university.

How to answer "Why do you want to leave your current job?". 

In my interview coaching I may suggest three aspects to cover.

  1. Do not be seen to be denigrating your current or previous organisation or industry. This can give the impression that you could be negative and destructive towards an organisation or employment sector. Interviewers and interview panels shy away from applicants who appear negative in their job interviews for fear that they might also spread negative gossip about them.
  2. Do not pull down your present boss, managers or colleagues. You always run the risk that the people interviewing you know them, or hold them in high regard, or are even married to them! It is truly a small world.
  3. Focus on your enthusiasm for the new organisation and the specific features of it that attract you to it. It's all about them. In demonstrating a genuine enthusiasm to move to the new organisation, you may highlight some of the skills and strengths that you have gained whilst working for your present organisation, and show a desire to apply these in the new context that the interviewing organisation offers.

Specific answers can be developed during interview coaching to ensure that people can apply these aspects to each individual job interview. For now, I'll just give one general example to illustrate what I mean.

Example of how to answer "Why do you want to leave your current job?". 

Imagine that you are applying for a senior physiotherapy position in a children's hospital. You presently work in an adult rehabilitation hospital with patients post-stroke. As it happens you want to leave because you don't like the intimidating consultants you work with. In your answer don't mention the consultants!

Rather emphasise the skills that you have gained post-stroke with adults and how excited you are to have the opportunity to apply these techniques to children aged 4-9 who have acquired brain injuries.

You might add, that you know the children's hospital has an increasing number of such children and needs to develop more effective management strategies for them. Given your strong research background you are keen to help them research new ways of managing these cases.

You need to prepare how to answer questions in an interview in a positive and value-driven way. If you get stuck on how to do this it may be a good idea to seek some interview coaching so you don't fail your interview and miss out on a job you really want.

How to answer questions in an interview? With a great deal of thought and care! Preparation for an interview is vital.