Interview Question Tip: How To Answer Why You Want To Leave

thinking about questionsIt is no secret that the job market these days is incredibly difficult to break through.  In fact, a recent analysis of government data determined that half of college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed.  What this means for applicants is that not only do they need to find new and innovative ways to breakthrough the candidate pool, but they also need to shine during the interview process.

If you are currently employed and yet seeking new opportunities, recruiters and hiring managers are almost guaranteed to ask you why you are looking for work elsewhere.  This interview question, believe it or not, can make or break your job prospects.  HR professionals are looking for a few critical character traits by asking this question, which will help them determine if you will be a good fit for their organization.

Tact, loyalty, and professionalism are the key to answering this question correctly and winning your way into the hearts of hiring managers in any industry.

Before heading in to your interview, write down a list of honest reasons that you are looking for employment elsewhere.  Is it because you were overlooked for a promotion, or because you do not feel challenged enough?  Are you not happy with a recent change in management or are there simply not enough opportunities for corporate growth at your current job?

When you have your list, scratch off anything that seems defamatory.  Remember the key traits: tact, loyalty and professionalism?  Slandering your current employer will get you cut from a recruiters list instantly.

The first thing that goes through a hiring manager’s head when they hear negative remarks about a current employer (or even a former one) is that you cannot conduct yourself with a sense of decorum.  Even worse, they know that if you will slander your current employer, you will most certainly do it to them as well.

Once you have eliminated any negative emotions associated with your reasons to part from your existing organization, you will want to put the remaining reasons into the most positive light possible.  For instance, if you were passed over for a recent promotion, answer the question by saying “I would like to work in an environment that presents better opportunities for growth”.  Be prepared for a follow-up question, as an educated HR professional will most likely ask what type of growth opportunities you are looking for.

Some people decide well into their career that they are in the wrong line of work.  This is incredibly brave and can actually be seen as an asset in any interview process.  If this situation applies to you, answer honestly and let them know that you are pursuing your passions and felt that going in a new direction would enrich your professional life.  A good hiring manager will recognize the honesty in the answer and admire the fact that you made the leap, however difficult, in order to ameliorate your situation.

Remember, it is always better to answer a question honestly and be turned away than to answer a question dishonestly and burn a bridge.  Stay truthful and professional and show no animosity towards your current employers and you will do just fine.  Good luck!

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Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.