This would be an inevitable question which you can’t ignore at any cost. There can be several reasons why you want to leave your current job or why you had left your previous job – and not all reasons can be rosy.
The most important thing is – are you sure about why you want to leave your job? In many cases, people take whimsical decisions to quit and later regret about leaving a place that could have added more values to their career graph. But if you know that your reasons are sorted enough, then you’ll be more confident in approaching you future/ prospective employer and answer his/ her questions in a more convincing manner.
Try to be honest while responding, because one irrelevant answer can lead to another tricky question. If you are honest and stick to your opinions, you’ll have a better image in the interviewer’s eyes. In today’s world of extreme competition in the job market, know that you are your toughest competitor and only you can surprise yourself.
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
When an interviewer asks you this question, it means that he/she wants to understand the degree of your efficiency and commitment that you’ll have towards your work once you be a part of their company.
The interviewer usually tries to find a certain flow in your response, trying to figure out whether his company will get affected in anyway because of you. It is important for him/her to know whether you left your previous job on a good note or not. You can provide the reference of your ex-boss in order to make things simple and smooth – this will easily convince your interviewer that you were not kicked out on some apprehensive note. Did you leave the job because of some personal reason or because you felt you were unappreciated? – If so, then back your reply with proper reasons.
Express your reasons skillfully and don’t act overconfident. Leave a space for the interviewer to make a positive opinion about you.
To put it more precisely, career expert Duncan Mathison, author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Search When Times are Tough, says that interviewers ask this question to “understand your motives and gain insight as to how [you] handle work relationships.”
How Should You Answer?
I had also left my previous job which wasn’t actually bad – I had a nice work environment with a super cool boss, but the work wasn’t something that really intrigued me. I wanted something else from life – and I had a very clear idea of what I was looking for.
I realized that the cubicle and the desktop with long hours of editing work wasn’t my cup of tea! I wanted to travel and write about places and people – in a way, I wanted to break out of the shackles of editing and give wings to my words that can reach out to millions of people and inspire them in some way or the other, to look deeper into their lives and to set themselves free.
Before I took to the step of resigning, I went for trek to the Himalayas, and amidst that solitude and eerie silence of nature, I fixated my mind and drew the strength of letting go of a well paying stable job in a skyscraper that looked extremely fancy from outside.
After a sabbatical of 6 months when I explored the mountains and the beaches of India and spend a month in Bhutan, I came across my present company, which at once caught my attention with its volunteer and travel opportunities and aim of touching underprivileged lives in certain corners of the world. Quite evidently, my current boss also threw the question regarding my earlier job – I guess my views about my life and where I see myself to be, convinced him enough to offer me the job.
How A Well-Structured Answer Looks Like and Why It Is Good
Start replying with a similar statement and slowly built your answer on what type of growth you are looking for and what skills you possess to deal with the challenges that might come your way. If you can, then briefly narrate a couple of situations that you’ve tactfully handled at your previous workplace.
“I’ve worked in the company for quite some time, and at this point I was feeling that my growth has stopped. I am looking for something that will help me inculcate some new skills and values.”
Explain about the project that you’ve finished and how it has benefited you company. Slowly drift to the context of role change and what role exactly you are looking for. Do you feel that this company will be able to provide you with what you are seeking? – If yes, then how? Be clear with the answers, so that it doesn’t create any doubt on the interviewer’s mind.
“I wrapped up a very important project for the company and now I feel it is the perfect time for me to step out of the comfort zone and explore something new. I want to shift my job role, and my company doesn’t have a vacancy to offer what I’m looking for.”
Your honesty will surely be appreciated, and if you can demonstrate your skills and competency through your ideas and strategies, then you’ll essentially make a mark on the interviewer’s mind. Admit that you didn’t get a scope you were looking for and you are expecting to get it in this company.
“The company suffered a huge loss and they are planning to fire few of the newly employed staffs. Since I haven’t got a chance to prove myself yet, I am skeptic about my position. Therefore, I’m looking for a better option to put my skills at use, before I get laid off.”
While apparently it might seem very snobbish to quit a job for traveling, but if you know how much your journeys have taught you and what values it added to your life, then you’ll surely be able to convince the interviewer. Also, you can share some experiences that you’ve had while on the go – for example, some volunteering work that you’ve done, some random situation that posed a challenge etc. This will help him/her to know you better and assess your skills and vigor.
“I wanted to take a break and explore my passion of traveling and photography, something I had wished to do since a long time. I wasn’t very confident initially about doing away with a job, but I later realized that if I’m not happy in my shoes, I can’t help the company move forward. So I decided to quit and pursue my passion. Now I feel that my energy had doubled and my journeys have made me stronger than I’ve ever been. I feel I’m ready to work in a much better manner and fetch a win-win level for both your company and myself.”
Not getting proper appreciation can actually suck and your interviewer will be able to understand your point if you can successfully narrate your stance. Express that you are ready to take up challenges for growth and you don’t mind stretching your limits, if that fetches you good results. After all, a little appreciation is something we all deserve.
“I feel that your company can provide me with better opportunities that I’m looking for. I realized that I wasn’t properly appreciated for the tasks I performed and the opportunity to grow wasn’t available to me in my previous company and that in order to continue to improve myself professionally, it was time to move on.”
Practice Your Answer Until You’re Confident About What You Say
No matter what, this question is difficult to be avoided at a job interview, and it’ll be better if you prepare the answer on your mind and keep repeating it until you are absolutely confident about what you are going to say. Remember that the key to success is to stay honest, clear and positive. Your mannerisms and body language will also compliment what you are saying – so make sure everything is in a sync.
Avoid speaking negatively about your erstwhile employer. Don’t try to make up stories on points that are irrelevant or unbelievable or may sound extremely gibberish to your interviewer.
Even he/she understands that nobody can stick to a job for an entire lifetime, it’s just that your reasons need to be good enough for quitting your previous job and convincing enough that you are the best candidate for the company!
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