Interview Question: "Why Are You Looking for a New Job?"

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When you're interviewing for a new job, the interviewer will most likely want to know why you're looking for a new position. The question may be posed in several ways, including, "Why are you looking for a new opportunity?" or "Why are you leaving your current job?"

Your response could be as simple as saying that you're seeking a new challenge, or it could be more complex if you didn't leave the job of your own volition. Either way, you don't need to share all the details. A short and simple response works best.

Review tips for answering interview questions about why you're looking for a job, what (and what not) to say when you respond, and examples of the best responses.

Key Takeaways

  • Keep your response simple and straightforward. You don't need to go into detail about why you're moving on.
  • Connect the job you are interviewing for to your qualifications and the fact it is an excellent fit for your skill set.
  • Be honest, but don't bash your former employer or company.
  • Rehearse what you'll say ahead of time, especially if you were terminated.

What the Interviewer Really Wants To Know

When you're interviewing for a new position, you should come prepared to answer questions about why you’re seeking employment. The interviewer is trying to determine what kind of employee you'll be if you're hired and whether you'll be a good fit for the organization.

The interviewer wants to know if you are:

  • A team player who gets along with others.
  • A good culture fit with the new company.
  • Diplomatic when discussing tough subjects.
  • Planning on sticking around at the new company if you're hired.

How To Answer the Question

The best way to respond to questions about why you're moving on depends on the reason you're job searching. If you're seeking a better opportunity, it's fine to say so. If you were fired or otherwise terminated, you'll want to be careful when you answer the question.

Depending on the reason for your departure, the interviewer may ask for details or you may be asked follow-up questions. Here are some tips for tackling that continuing conversation.

Keep it simple. People change jobs all the time and there are many different reasons why someone could be looking for work. Know in advance what you're going to say, and have a reason ready to share with the interviewer.

Be honest. It's fine to be honest about why things were less than rosy at your previous job, but bring the conversation back to why that would make you such a great employee now. For example, you can say you were frustrated by the lack of opportunities at your old job. Or you could say that you're looking to work for a company that provides more options for growing your career.

Focus on your accomplishments. After you share the reason you're looking for a job, describe some of your important accomplishments and how they are a fit for the job for which you're being considered. You'll score bonus points if you can tie your answer back to why the job you're applying for is a better fit because you'll be afforded more opportunities.

Keep it positive. The interviewer is looking for an answer that will help in the hiring decision. While the specifics of your answer will depend on whether you left voluntarily or were asked to leave, it's important to answer in a way that casts you in a positive light.


Give a truthful reason as to why you're leaving, but steer clear of bringing any negativity into the discussion.

Examples of the Best Answers

It's hard to anticipate when the question will come up or how it will be asked. You'll need to think on your feet and tailor your response to meet your situation. Be direct and focus your answer on the future rather than the past, especially if your leaving wasn't under the best of circumstances.

Example Answer #1

I've very much appreciated the opportunities provided to me by ABC company, but I'm ready to move forward and take on a new challenge. This position sounds like an exciting opportunity with a terrific company and an ideal match for my qualifications.

Why It Works: The candidate's response is a positive one that shows appreciation for their current employer, as well as a desire to move their career forward.

Example Answer #2

While I learned valuable skills at my previous job, I no longer feel energized or challenged by the work. I am ready for new challenges and the chance to make an impact in another position.

Why It Works: The potential employee may have been bored in their previous job, but rather than blaming the job or the company, they put "blame" on themself in a way that makes them sound energetic, dynamic, and ready to take on a new role.

Example Answer #3

After trying to make the job work, I realized I might find a better fit in a position that aligns more with my goals and aspirations. While being let go from a job isn't easy, I learned from the experience and have grown in many ways. I would love to tell you how I've grown, what I've learned, and how I will bring those lessons and skills to your company.

Why It Works: Even if you were let go or left your last job under less-than-favorable circumstances, frame your answer in a way that shows you've learned and grown since that experience. Be sure to think about that growth ahead of time and how you'll convey it to the interviewer so you can steer the question of why you left in a positive direction.

Example Answer #4

I was laid off from my last position when our department was eliminated due to corporate restructuring.

Why It Works: The reason for leaving the last position is stated clearly and concisely. In this case, there is reason to simply be brief.

Example Answer #5

I'm relocating to this area due to family circumstances, and I left my previous position in order to make the move.

Why It Works: Interviewers understand that you must find a job when you relocate. When you say you relocated due to family circumstances, interviewers may wonder what those family circumstances are. Be brief and honest, but don’t go into detail. It’s not necessary to go into your personal life.

Tips for Giving the Best Response

Avoid negativity. Don't speak poorly about managers, colleagues, or the company. However, you can speak broadly about corporate goals or mention that you are not aligned with the direction the business is taking. Don't get personal in your response. You may speak negatively about a co-worker only to learn they have a close relationship with the interviewer. 

Prepare a response in advance. It’s crucial to think about this question ahead of time and prepare an answer in advance. You want to sound genuine and authentic, but you don’t want to stumble when answering. Prepare a brief but honest answer.

Practice in front of an audience. Practice your answer so you know what you're going to say. Even if it feels a little silly, recording your response on your phone or tablet or practicing in front of a mirror or in front of a friend or family member can help you feel more comfortable answering the question. This is particularly true if you were laid off or fired. In a situation like that, give a short, clear, and unemotional response. 


Don't forget that the delivery of your answer is almost as important as its content. Be sure to practice out loud so you sound positive and clear in your responses.

Focus on the future. Frame your answer in a way that makes your interviewer feel confident that the position you're interviewing for is in line with your personal and professional goals. Rather than focus on the past and negative experiences you may have had at your old job, your answer should open the door to a discussion about why you want the job you're interviewing for and why you're the best person for it.

What Not To Say

It's good to be candid, and you definitely don't want to lie, but there are just some things you shouldn't say in an interview.

  • Don’t get personal. No matter what, don’t badmouth your former boss, colleagues, or company. How you answer this question offers a window into your on-the-job character and values.
  • Keep your response concise. When you answer the question about why you're leaving your current job, be as brief as possible and steer the conversation back toward the new position and why you'd be a good fit. You could easily get caught up in something you would rather not say, so don’t expand on your prepared answer.
  • Don't ask about salary. Don’t mention salary during the first interview unless the interviewer does first.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I explain getting fired from a job?

It can be difficult to talk about getting fired, but it's important to have an explanation ready.

You don't need to share all the details. Keep your response brief and to the point, then move on to why you're a strong candidate for the job.

What's a good reason to use when you're leaving a job?

When you're resigning or talking to a prospective employer about a new position, keep your reason for leaving positive even if you're not moving on under the best of circumstances. Common reasons for leaving a job include changing careers, seeking a new opportunity to use your skills, looking for a new opportunity or a position that's a better fit, and family circumstances.

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