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The Best Way To Answer ‘Why Are You Leaving?’ When You Hate Your Job

It’s time for a new job and you’re on the hunt.

There are a million reasons for people to search and we all know that it is a huge no-no to say negative things about your current boss or company.

So how do you share why you’re looking for your next gig (aka running screaming) without letting your negative feelings show and damaging your chances of landing a better role?

When we’re talking about things that bring us down, our demeanor changes. Negativity literally weighs us down causing changes in posture, tone, cadence and facial expressions. Many times we don’t notice these nonverbal cues that tend to also bring down the person with whom we’re speaking or interviewing. On the other hand, talking about what you love has the opposite effect. Has someone ever told you that you light up when you talk about something? That is the feeling and emotion you want to get across in your interview and I have a formula to show you how. This can be applied if you were let go, are dealing with a terrible boss or were hired for a job that turned out to be a bad fit.

Your goal is to keep your answer positive, relevant and forward moving. Authenticity is key in interviewing, so think of this as the ‘rose colored glasses’ version of your departure. It’s never okay to be misleading. The world is getting smaller and smaller, so untruths are easily uncovered. Plus, we all have enough to keep track of; don’t add untruths to the mix.

When answering the question ‘Why are you looking for a new job?’ try explaining in three parts.

Part 1: What did you learn or enjoy about your last role?

Start with the positive and keep the story of why you are leaving your current role relevant to your next role. Share the tools you used, skills you honed or challenges you conquered.

Instead of: It was a great job for a while. Despite the fact that I had never been a social media manager, I figured it out.

Say this: My time at Company has been very rewarding. I gained a clear understanding of social media strategy and how to build and engage a loyal following.

Part 2: How have circumstances changed?

Consider the event that precipitated your search. Was there a change in management? Your role? The company? Be honest and stick to the facts during this part of the answer. Be mindful not to let emotions creep in here. Stay objective and focus on what is in your control. You’ll notice the first option is completely left to circumstances that were out of the job seeker’s control, while the second showcases what the job seeker has done in light of the changes, showing critical thinking and ambition.

Instead of: In January Company was bought out by a major corporation and my job changed completely.

Say this: In recent months there have been changes to our team and the company structure which have prompted me to reflect on my time there and where I really thrive.

Part 3: What do you want in your next role?

Here’s the part where you flip around the negative parts of your job that make you want to leave. Instead of focusing on the bad characteristics of your current role, think of the opposite and express what you want in your next role. Is your boss a micromanager? You’re looking for more autonomy. Are you expecting to be laid off? You’re interested in a role with more stability. Is it a terrible culture fit? Your priority is finding a company that is aligned with your values.

Instead of: I work alone and the projects I get bore me to tears. I’m drowning in bureaucracy and paperwork. Nothing ever gets done.

Say this: I realized that I’m at my best when I’m a part of a dynamic team working on innovative projects. I like to be able to change course and try new approaches to improve the customer experience.

It is inevitable that you will receive some version of this question in your next interview. Remember to keep the conversation going and present yourself in the best possible light by keeping the conversation upbeat and moving forward. This formula will not only help your messaging, but it will help you reframe your thinking around a negative experience.


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