Top Interview Questions and Answers
Why do you wish to leave your current position?
Alternative and related questions:
Why do you wish to leave your current employer?
What do you plan to say to your current employer in your letter of resignation?
The meaning behind the question:
The interviewer is trying to understand your motivation to change jobs. They clearly want to know why you want to change jobs but they also want to know how serious you are about changing jobs. Are you really committed to moving or are you just wasting their time?
There are a whole multitude of reasons for wanting to leave your job - but they won’t all be positive selling points for you.
Positive reasons include:
- Wanting a greater challenge
- Wanting to diversify
- Seeking greater opportunities
- Seeking further advancement
- Taking a step up the career ladder
Negative reasons include:
- Problems with your boss
- Problems with a colleague
- A financially unstable organization
- ‘Personal reasons’
If your reason for wanting to leave your job is a positive one then your answer will be easy enough to construct. Explain to the interviewer what your motivations are and how the move to your next job will help you to achieve your goals. You are making a positive move for positive reasons and intend to achieve a positive outcome - simple as that.
If, however, your reason for leaving your job is in my list of negative reasons, then giving the right answer is going to be somewhat trickier. Because each of the situations is so different, I will deal with each of them in turn.
Problems with your boss: Having problems with the boss is the top reason people give (in surveys) for changing jobs. However, you should never say anything negative about either a current or a previous employer. It isn’t professional, it doesn’t portray you as someone who is particularly loyal - and it will reflect badly on you. In almost all cases, I would recommend that you avoid citing this as a reason. Criticising your current employer is considered one of the top mistakes you can make at interview and will most likely cost you the job regardless of whether or not your criticism is justified. Aim to give an answer which focuses on the benefits you will experience in moving to your new job rather than making any reference to your having had problems with your boss.
Problems with a colleague: Maybe you want to leave because of a persistently unpleasant colleague? However, explaining this to the interviewer will most likely open you up to expressing bitterness or recrimination - traits that are not attractive to a potential employer. Again, you should aim to give an answer which focuses on the benefits of moving to your new job rather than drawing attention to your problems.
A financially unstable organization: You may well have decided to leave your job before your employer finally goes bankrupt, but you don’t want to be labelled as a ‘rat leaving a sinking ship’. It doesn’t say much for your loyalty. Avoid giving this as a reason.
‘Personal reasons’: There are many different personal circumstances which might cause you to wish to leave a job - for example you might simply want a better work-life balance. However, if possible you should avoiding giving ‘personal reasons’ as an answer and instead leave the interviewer to believe you are leaving in order to pursue a more promising opportunity.
As for asking what you would write in a resignation letter, you should remember that, when it comes to resignation letters, it is well worth being as nice as possible about the matter. Harsh words in a letter of resignation could easily come back to haunt you in the future - not least if you ever need a reference out of this employer.
I would simply tell them that, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to move on to a new challenge. Naturally, I’d thank them for the opportunities with which they presented me during the course of my employment, reassure them that I will of course do my best to help ensure the seamless transfer of my duties and responsibilities before leaving - and wish them all the very best for the future.
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Author: James Innes