12 Best Reasons For Leaving A Job | Interview Answers Inside

A man dressed in a suit wallking out of the door after a job interview.

“The job became boring” “My boss was horrible, sadistic and….”

The number of people who give these answers is surprising when asked why they are leaving or left their jobs. Unfortunately, this poor answer can take you off the list of prospective hires for your dream job.

Your reason for leaving your last position is a common interview question potential employers ask, and this is rightfully so. Recruiting new employees takes a company’s time and money. Understandably, no company wants to expend these resources too often. So, you should have a good answer when asked about your reasons for leaving a job application or in an interview.

This expert guide will discuss 12 answers you can choose from as your reason for leaving a job. These are all common reasons, but we will provide you with the best way to frame this to inspire confidence in you with recruiters, which will ultimately help you land the role you want.


12 Best Reasons for Leaving a Job

a businesswoman sitting at her desk talking to a female employee.

When employers ask why you left your previous job, they are most likely asking for these three reasons:


  • to know if you were fired
  • to know if the same situation is likely to happen again at their company
  • to see how you handled the situation


So, here are twelve ways you can answer this question.


#1. Poor Work Arrangement

You may want a more flexible schedule to have a better work-life balance. Or perhaps, you are pursuing a degree, and your current workplace is not flexible enough to accommodate your needs. This can also be a good reason if you just had a baby and your former workplace arrangement didn’t allow you to cater to him/her. 

For example, you can say, “I wanted to move to Atlanta so that my baby can have support from my family, so I looked for a job that offered me this option.”


#2. Career Change

This is a great reason for leaving a previous job, and most employers appreciate this response. Sometimes, your career path may change while you are in the middle of a job and if there’s no place for this new career at your former workplace. For instance, if you used to be a content creator at a financial institution, but you are now fully into graphic design and want to work exclusively in that area and in an environment where you can grow, you can quit your job and work in a web development firm instead.

So, in this case, you can say, “I acquired the skill set to work as a graphic designer and want to work in that area, but my previous employer needed a content creator. So, the job no longer aligned with my career goals.”

In this case, you may have to answer more questions on the skills you have acquired to qualify for the new role.


#3. Better Opportunity 

If you get offered a better opportunity, it’s a valid reason to give for leaving your job. For instance, if you get offered a job with a better salary and perks, or you are offered a higher position, it’s only normal that you take it. This answer will most likely apply if you are asked why you left a job before the one you just quit.

So, you can say, “I was offered a management position at Company B, so I left Company A.”


#4. Redundancy In Previous Workplace 

If you feel you have stunted growth at your workplace or have been due for promotion for a while and still haven’t gotten it, and you quit, that’s a good reason.

Let’s say, for instance, that you are a product manager who has hit all target KPIs, led projects, exceeded expectations when dealing with partner organizations, and is well-liked among colleagues and team members. However, you still don’t get the promotion you deserve. They may either have hired someone from outside or promoted someone over your head who isn’t as qualified; you have a good case for leaving your job.

In this case, “Company A wasn’t giving me the growth opportunities I needed, despite exceeding my KPIs and leading successful projects X and Y. This was quite demotivating, so I quit.”


#5. Overqualification 

You may be highly skilled at your job and have attained more skills to boost your career, but you are being under-utilized. For example, if you are an expert marketer with accounting degrees and an amazing track record, but your former job merely involved the job of a sales associate. This can leave you feeling under-utilized. This is a great reason to give for leaving your workplace. 

For example, you can say, “my former role didn’t match my expectations. I had the responsibilities of a sales associate, rather than using my expertise as a marketer.”


#6. Altered Company Dynamics

Sometimes, a company can change its dynamics or vision. For example, this often happens when the company has been acquired by another company or has become a subsidiary. In this case, the operation, pay, management, and structure can all be altered, and not in a good way. 

If this happens, you may need to leave. You can say, “A new management changed the dynamics, so the values and vision that made me feel connected to my precious workplace no longer exist.”


#7. You Were Fired

Most people do not like to admit that they were fired at their previous workplace, which is understandable. Asides from the question putting recruiters on alert, it may lead to further questions that will influence the outcome of your interview.

However, it’s okay to say you were fired. Lying about this will only make things worse and hurt all chances of you getting employed.

Instead, make sure you admit that you were fired from your workplace cleanly and precisely. Then, follow this up by stating how you have learned from that experience and the skills you have gained to help you do better now.


#8. Conflict With A New Supervisor

It’s possible that you just got a new supervisor transferred, and the individual makes things difficult for you. This could be super frustrating if you used to get along well with your previous supervisor.

Maybe your new boss has poor management skills and has an unpleasant attitude; then you can leave. For example, you can say:

“The leadership in my previous role used to be great, fostering my productivity. However, there’s a new supervisor whose managing skills do not align with my values.”


#9. Personal Reasons 

You may be in a difficult situation that requires you to take breaks or change roles entirely. For example, a family member may have been sick and needed you.

In this instance, you may say, “My daughter had health issues, so I had to quit my job to take care of her.”


#10. Organizational Restructuring 

Layoffs are like natural disasters for corporate employees. Sometimes, a company may decide to downsize, or the company may go out of business due to bankruptcy. When this happens, employees will get laid off, and if you are one of them, it’s a valid reason to give at a job interview.

You can say, “There was a change in management at Company A, and the company had to downsize to fit revenue; they had to let me go. I can provide a letter of recommendation from them if needed.”


#11. Poor Compensation

Everyone needs money and wants to be paid well for what they do. It sometimes happens that you just aren’t getting paid enough at your former workplace, and you actively search for another job. This can be a good reason to quit a job, but wording it carefully is important. You can say:

“Several factors motivate my work rate, such as value alignment and good compensation. I was not getting the latter at my previous job, and it would be encouraging to work where I can passionately use my skills and get adequately compensated for it.”


#12. Poor Company Culture

You may have found yourself in a place with poor work culture or a culture that doesn’t align with yours. If this causes you to leave, you can frame it like this. 

“I enjoyed my work at Company A. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a good fit there. I am looking for an intimate and friendly work environment where I can work passionately.” 

These reasons can fit into any context as reasons for leaving your current job; the most important thing is framing, so take some time to practice this before going for your job interview.


How Not To Answer The “Reason For Leaving” Interview Question

Two businessmen discussing something together.

While we have clarified the proper way to answer why you are resigning from a job, we will now discuss the mistakes you shouldn’t make when answering this question.

Here are a few things to avoid:


#1. Don’t Badmouth Your Former Employer

This is a common mistake. If you have had a bad experience or poor management at your previous workplace, it can be tempting to want to spill. However, this will only be a red flag for prospective employers.

It’s best to leave out statements like “the culture was toxic,” “the management was terrible,” or “my boss was selfish.” Instead, find a way to turn what was lacking into what you are looking for in your current job. For example, you can say you are looking to work in a well-structured environment where you can utilize your skills better.


#2. Avoid Over-Explaining 

You may feel the urge to explain why you left your previous role in too many sentences just because you want to be understood. However, this does more harm than good. Instead, pick one reason and explain how it led to you quitting and seeking another work environment in a minute or less.

At most, you can answer with two reasons, but don’t submit to the urge to explain yourself and apologize.


#3. Don’t Emphasize Your Flaws

While giving reasons for quitting your previous role, you may need to mention that you could not perform your tasks due to a skill you lacked. For example, you may want to mention that you couldn’t get along with your colleagues or you couldn’t perform under pressure. However, these things will only work against you.

Every employer prefers employees who get along well with others, who can learn on the job, and perform well under pressure. So unless you want to link a flaw to a new skill you have gained to solve it, it’s often better to avoid mentioning it at the current company.


Alternatives To Leaving Your Job

We all get frustrated at our jobs. You may feel like you need a new challenge or feel underappreciated for the work at one point or the other. Sometimes, the answer isn’t to quit your current position. There are several alternatives you can explore in this situation, and some are:


— Ask For A Promotion/ Raise 

If you notice you are starting to feel drained at work or stagnant, as if you aren’t making much progress, you can speak to your direct boss or HR. You can ask if there’s something you can do to work towards a promotion soon. Put this in a way that signifies you are willing to take on responsibilities that will help you do your job better.


— Make A Vertical Change 

A vertical change or leap means you are crossing to another department or role within the company. For example, you might like the company you work with and the culture, but you are unsatisfied with your role as an IT specialist, or you have gained skills that can enable you to become a product manager. In that case, you can speak to HR or apply for the role directly. 

If you are lucky, you can land a new role. This affords you the excitement of a new job while also assuring you of a place and colleagues you already like.


— Take A Break Or Ask For Reduced Hours 

Sometimes, you want to quit your job because you have other responsibilities competing for your time. Other times, you may feel drained and burnt out. These issues occur, and asking for reduced hours may be the answer. 

Most employees feel guilty about taking their paid off time, but this shouldn’t be the case. A paid-off time is a privilege you should learn to use, as you become more productive and energetic when you return. This is good for both you and the company. 

You can try other things, such as asking for additional training, asking for flexible hours, or starting a passion project at work.


Preparing To Leave Your Job

Just like taking on a new role, quitting a job is something you have to plan for. Your exit is very important, and you have to make sure you are mentally and financially ready and have all the skills needed to find a new place. Here’s how to resign from a job:


— Choose The Right Time 

There’s no perfect time to quit a job, but at least you can make sure you won’t resign and immediately regret it. Even if you feel the pressure to leave, take some time to weigh the pros and cons, read articles that can help, and, if possible, consult with a colleague who has left the company in the past. Then, you can make the call when you have the right information. 

If you are actively looking for your next job opportunity, the best time to resign is when you have received another job offer.


— Give A 2-Week Notice 

The essence of a notice of termination of employment is to give your employer time to find someone suitable to fill your role. Also, giving this notice ensures your previous clients and customers are well catered for. 

Two weeks is the standard length of time generally required before quitting a job. However, if you have worked for a long time with the employer, or your role is important, it’s ideal to give more than that. 

A notice will also give your colleagues time to say a proper goodbye to you. You can also get a recommendation letter for future employers and things that will help you in your new workplace.


— Wrap Up And Transition 

A transition is the last responsibility of a quitting employee. After you have notified your employer, ensure you finalize whatever immediate project you were working on. Also, spend some time documenting important information relating to your role, share where you have kept important files or equipment, and supply details on your responsibilities. 

Ensure you leave on good terms; you may need to go back for a letter of recommendation, require assistance from a supervisor to settle into your new role, or even have to partner with your former workplace in your new role.


Finding Other Employment Opportunities 

If you have worked at your current place of employment for long, it may be jarring to fall back into the job search routine. Finding a new opportunity can be a full-time job, and we have collected a few tips that can make this easier for you:


— Use Your Network

A popular phrase people use to describe networks is the hidden job market. This is because of how effective getting a new position can be through networking. Many roles are not advertised, but they are filled when people are referred. 

Make sure that you share the information you are on the market with people who have good connections. You can inform friends or clients whom you have personal relationships with. But be very careful when you do this, as it may backfire.


— Join Career Websites 

Career websites and job boards have become increasingly popular among job searchers. Career websites like Google Jobs, LinkedIn, Monster.com, and others are great places to start. In addition, they also give tips that can help you navigate your way around the job market.

Also, sites like Glassdoor, Comparably, and Indeed are more advanced. These sites have job listings and allow you to get statistics on prospective employers, job interview questions, and provide career advice.

You can also directly find employment or freelance on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Dice, and SimplyHired.


— Company Websites

Most companies now have a dedicated careers page on their site for job seekers to apply for roles. Some companies even have mail listings you can join so that you will be notified when there’s an open role available.

You can look through the websites of certain companies to see if there’s an open role suitable for you. This method is most effective if you already have companies you would like to work with.


The Bottom Line

Answering the question, “why did you leave your job?” requires tact and caution, as it is as important as tricky. Ensure you frame your reason well, and stay firm and positive.

Keep things simple and direct, and avoid speaking too much not to raise more red flags. Also, avoid certain words and focus on leaving your job well. With these tips, you will be able to ace your interview without any problem.

But before quitting, ensure you exhaust other alternatives and are fully ready to enter the job market again.


Frequently Asked Questions 

How should I answer the interview question, “why are you leaving your current job?”

This question comes up when you are interviewing for a new role while you still have your current job, and it’s important to pick your words carefully.

You should focus on the positive experiences and skills you hope to gain at the new company rather than badmouthing your current employer.

However, if you are not actively looking to leave your current role but are only considering your options, you can explain this to the interviewer. Explain that you came across the open position and tell them what intrigued you to apply for it.

For example, you can explain that the job was closer to your family and would help you attain better work-life balance, or state that the job offers you vision insurance and you have been managing your sight for years, so you got curious. This is, however, not advisable if you are actively looking. Your focus in that circumstance should be on things tied to your professionalism and will advance your career.


What should I say in an interview if I got fired from my last job?

Getting fired from a job can happen to anyone, but knowing how to answer why you were fired is pretty crucial to getting a new role. First, you need to be sincere about being fired. While you should be sober about it, don’t be apologetic. Remain firm and keep things simple when asked why; don’t go into too much detail. If anything, find a way to frame your termination in simplified corporate terms.

More importantly, turn this into an opportunity. Recruiters who ask this question often want to know how you responded to the termination and whether you sought to develop yourself. So, explain how you took the loss, how you responsibly handed it over to a new employee, and the steps you took to learn from the mistake you made. For example, you can mention online classes you have taken to improve yourself or a new skill you have added since then.


How long should I work at a job before I leave?

Ideally, you should stay at a workplace for two years before calling it quits. This is short enough to show that you value career growth and are a committed employee. At the same time, it’s long enough for you to gain some career skills and build your qualifications. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees typically stay at a job for over four years. However, everyone has different priorities. If you find that a company is not a good place for you to grow, or the values don’t align with yours, two years is an excellent timeline to exit. 

However, if there’s a toxic work culture or any other red flags that you can’t ignore, you can exit before this time. Just ensure that you are honest with the hiring manager and turn interview questions into opportunities to explain what you offer. This should help you scale through. Just don’t get into the habit of leaving early too often.


Will anyone hire me if I leave jobs too often?

Leaving jobs or being between jobs too often will hurt your chances of getting hired again. Every company prefers an employee that feels a level of attachment to the company. A study found that employees who left a job within 15 months became 43% less hirable to recruiters. The survey also states that this equals erasing five years of your work experience. 

Now, if this is a pattern you repeat too often, the chances are that no employer will be willing to take a risk on you. Besides, being experienced at a job (that is, staying for two years and more) inspires confidence in your capabilities, but where you have left multiple jobs, especially at entry-level in less than 15 months at each, you are sending a major red flag to recruiters. 

Job hopping conveys a lack of focus. It also may reflect that you were asked to leave your job, especially since most new employers have a 2-3 months probation period for hires. However, if you are in this situation, you may still be able to find a good job with the proper determination.