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When you're interviewing for a new job, the interview will likely ask why you're looking for new opportunities.
"Why are you looking for a new job?" is one of the most common variants of this interview question, but look out for it in other forms like "Why do you want this job?", "Why did you leave your last job?", "Why are you interested in this position?" and "Why do you want to work here?"
This article outlines why interviewers ask this question, how to answer it and provides example answers, tips, and mistakes to avoid.
Why interviewers ask, "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Interviewers ask, "Why are you looking for a new job?" to understand why your reasons for leaving your current employer. Your motivation for leaving your current job provides insight into what you're like, allowing hiring managers to assess if you're:
- A team player
- A good fit for the company culture
- Diplomatic when discussing your previous job
- Planning to stick around if hired
- Excited about potential new challenges
- Passionate about the new position
How to answer "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Potential employers can learn a lot about you and whether you're a good fit for the position by asking, "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Depending on the reasons for leaving, the interviewer may ask follow-up questions. Follow the steps below to construct a compelling answer.
1. Highlight your relevant skills and experience
Start by highlighting your relevant skills and experience. Use the question as an opportunity to highlight what differentiates you from other candidates.
You'll need to read the job description and research the company to know what skills and experiences to highlight. That's the only way to craft a compelling answer that interviewers appreciate.
If you do this well, you'll make it easy for the hiring manager to see why you're the right person for the job.
2. Focus on the positives
It may be tempting to say you're looking for a new job because your current employer is unbearable or the boss won't give you new opportunities, but it's better to focus on the positives.
The focal point of your answer should be why you're excited about the new company and why the role is the next logical step in your career.
Always emphasize why the opportunity is exciting and why you're the best fit.
3. Keep your answer concise and memorable
A long rambling answer is hard for the interviewer to remember. Keep your initial response short while still including all relevant details.
We'd recommend using the STAR interview method to structure your answer. If the interviewer needs more information, they will ask a follow-up question.
Examples of the best answers to "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Let's look at some of the best answers to "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Use these answers as the basis of your answer that fits your unique situation.
Sample answer #1: Outgrown your current position
"I've been working at an SEO agency for the last three years. I've learned a lot, but I feel like I need to move in-house to grow professionally.
Working at an agency has been great, but there is only so much you can learn when you're constantly jumping between accounts. I'm excited for the opportunity to focus on one company and deeply learn about its products and services.
I'm a big fan of Webflow. We've been using you guys at the agency for a few years now. I took some time before the interview to have a quick look at your organic presence. It's good, but I know it could be better. You have an excellent brand and a strong backlink profile. Safe to say, I'm super excited about the impact I could have."
Why it works: The applicant outlines why they're looking for work without badmouthing their previous employer then shifts the focus of their answer to why they're excited about the prospect of working at the specific company.
Sample answer #2: Excited to solve new challenges
"When I joined my current company, we were a team of five. Now we've scaled to over 100 employees. I love the early days of company building, and my skill set is best suited for it.
That's why I'm excited by this role. It's a similar role to what I'm doing now, but at a smaller company. You're at a similar size to when I joined my current company, and I know I can bring a lot of valuable context to help you grow the business."
Why it works: The candidate highlights their reasons for leaving their current job and why the company's challenges are exciting to them. They're sure to impress any interviewer because of the way they showed why they're uniquely suited for the position.
Sample answer #3: Changing careers
"I've been a technical account manager for the last three years. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with our product team and take on some of the product management responsibilities while a colleague was out on paternity leave.
I found that I love the creativity and problem-solving aspects of product management and that my experience in customer success makes user research calls flow. I'm excited about the prospect of moving into product full-time, even if it's at a lower level of compensation. I'm in it for the long-term."
Why it works: The candidate highlights why they're changing careers, how their prior skillset compliments the position, and that they're willing to stay with the company over the long term.
Sample answer #4: Next logical step
"I've been working as a software engineer for the last six years. I love being hands-on coding, but I've recently had the opportunity to manage a small team and found that I enjoy it. Becoming an engineering manager feels like the next logical step in my career.
That's my primary motivation for applying for the role. It offers me the opportunity to develop my management skills. I know that you use Go and AWS heavily, and I've got hands-on experience with both of those, so I know I'd be able to mentor more junior engineers as well."
Why it works: This is a good answer because the candidate outlines why the role is the next logical step in their career path while tying in their relevant experience.
Sample answer #5: Dream role or company
"I was hoping this interview question would come up. I've thought a lot about it. Canva is my dream company. I've been an avid user of the product for the last five years, and I've noticed a ton of minor fixes Canva could make to improve the customer experience.
I'm not even actively job searching at the moment, but when this role came up, I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring. Canva is the only company I'm applying for in my job search because of how excited I am about this opportunity!"
Why it works: Employers love candidates who are passionate users of their products. Passionate users know the product inside and out and can provide fresh, informed perspectives.
Tips for answering "Why are you looking for a new job?"
- Prepare your answer in advance: Preparing a response before your job interview reduces stress, makes you appear more confident, and increases your chances of receiving a job offer.
- Talk about the company: Employers want to know why you want to work for their company, so you need to research the company before your job interview. You need to show why you want their job, not why you want a job.
- Be confident: Frame your answer in a way that makes the interviewer feel convinced you're the best person for the position. How you deliver your response is as important as what you say, so sit up straight, smile, and make eye contact.
- Be positive: Don't badmouth your boss, colleagues, or current company. It's OK to talk about why you weren't excited about the company's goals, but don't make it personal. Negativity will only make your job search harder.
- Be honest: It's OK to touch on the things you dislike about your current position, but always bring it back to why you're excited about the new company. For example, suppose you are frustrated that your current role doesn't provide professional development opportunities. In that case, talk about how you're attracted to the new position because of the unique challenges and opportunities it offers.
- Practice aloud: Ask a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview with you and practice your response aloud. Practicing aloud helps you iron out the kinks in your answer and to feel more confident in your interview.
Mistakes to avoid when answering "Why are you looking for a new job?"
Avoid making these mistakes when answering, "Why are you looking for a new job?":
- Being negative: Focus on why you're a good fit for the new position, not what you hate about your previous role.
- Talking about compensation: Don't say money is the sole reason you're applying. It's not a compelling answer and won't help you stand out from other job seekers. The interviewer will ask, "What are your salary expectations?" to understand your compensation requirements.
- Focusing on your old job: When you answer questions about why you're leaving your current company, focus on the new position and why you're a good fit, not why you're leaving. Emphasize why your skills and career experience make you the best candidate.
- Lying: Always be honest about why you're leaving your current role. Even if you were fired, laid off, or let go, it's always better, to be honest. If the interviewer finds you're lying, you'll ruin your chances of receiving a job offer.
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