The Interview Q "Why Are You Looking For A New Job?"— Answered

How to Answer 'Why Are You Looking For A New Job?'
by Lauren McGoodwin
Photos Joe Kathrina | December 15, 2016
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If you're interviewing for jobs, one of the hardest questions you'll get is: "Why don't you want to stay where you are?" Here's exactly what you should say.
This can be a tricky question to answer in a job interview without speaking negatively about your current job or employer. You already know it’s never a good idea to trash your boss or tell an interviewer or recruiter that you can't stand working with your team, right? So what do you say? 

HOW TO Answer THE QUESTION

Follow a “less is more” approach and focus specifically on what attracted you to the new company and/or role instead of why you’re leaving your current job. In a job interview, you're basically your own PR agent—so make like one and spin the question in your favor. Here's how: 

Step 1: Start with the Unexpected i.e. Why You Like Your Current Job

Obviously, there are reasons why you don't, but beginning on a positive note never hurt anyone. Explain why your current role has been a positive experience for you. You don't have to go into detail, and you don't have to lie. A simple "I've had some great experiences in the last year and learned so much about [insert industry or your job's responsibilities]" will suffice.

Step 2: Bring the Focus Back to Why You Applied for the Job

You picked this company for a reason, and they're looking for a candidate who's a great fit, not for someone who just wants out of a bad situation. What drew you to them matters more than what pushed you away from your current company. Make that your priority.

Step 3: Throw Down Some Industry Knowledge

You'd better have walked into this job interview with plenty of company knowledge committed to memory (if not, you may want to download our Job Interview Prep Checklist below). This is where you'll make it clear you know your stuff. Mention a recent award the company's received or a new project or client they've taken on. This demonstrates you're on it, but also that you know exactly why you want to join the team. 

Step 4: Keep It Short

Finish with: "...so when I saw this job at your company, I felt we were a good match." 

Step 5: Lean Back and Admire Your Handiwork

You've successfully breezed through one of the most difficult questions interviewees have to answer. Onto the next one.

BONUS #1: A REAL EXAMPLE

 
HIRING MANAGER: So, tell me why you're looking for a new job?

CLAIRE: I’m actually very happy in my role at [Company X], and I’ve really enjoyed the last six years of opportunities, challenges, team members, etc. However, I’ve been really impressed by ["your product’s impact on mobile advertising"—or any particular note about the company], and [this is where you tie it all together by saying something like: "creating a better user experience is something I’m constantly excited to be working on in my current role"]. So when I saw this job opening, I thought we were a great match, and I’d love the opportunity to contribute to another [« see what we did there? No smack talk about your current company] innovative company.

The format of this answer does a few things:
  • It removes an opportunity to bad-mouth your current company or role
  • It reiterates that you’re not a job-hopper
  • It proves you've researched and specifically targeted the new company
  • It answers the question directly and succinctly

Bonus #2: Some Answers to Other Tricky Interview Questions

We wouldn't be a career advice site if we didn't have a few others up our sleeves. Here are some additional questions you should consider while preparing for your job interview:
Are you preparing for a job interview? Got a question about how to prepare? Ask us in the comments, and we'll answer it for you.