How Would You Answer Why You Quit Your Job?

John Krautzel
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When an interviewer asks why you quit your job, be prepared with a brief, neutral answer that keeps the conversation positive. Interviewers are looking for clues about your character, and they don't want to recruit problematic workers who job hop, got fired or clash with others. Instead of being caught by surprise, use these smart interview techniques to stay composed and explain why you quit your job.

Personal Advancement

Ambition to move up isn't a bad thing, as long as you didn't burn bridges along the way. Many employers are wary of "disloyal" workers who chase the biggest paycheck or frequently change jobs to speed up advancement. Stress your desire for personal growth and lasting contributions in the company. Consider these examples:

> I'm interested in an environment where I can grow and bring my strongest skills to the table.
> I worked for a smaller company where there was limited room for growth.
> I like challenges, and my previous role didn't fully use my skills and training.

Career or Role Changes

If you quit your job to steer your career in a different direction, be upfront about your reasons for choosing a new role. Interviewers are most concerned about your credibility and commitment, so focus on how your diverse experience, passion and self-awareness make you an engaged worker.

> I really enjoyed (blank) in my last job and want this to be the focus of my career going forward.
> I have years of experience doing (blank) recreationally and want to pursue it professionally.
> I'm excited to use my skills in a different capacity.

Downsizing or Restructuring

Resist the temptation to lie if you were downsized or quit your job due to restructuring, since you don't know who the interviewer might know at your last company. Most employers understand job loss is common during rocky transitions, so offer a graceful explanation.

> My job/department was eliminated due to downsizing/restructuring.
> The focus of my role changed and no longer fit my skills after the company came under new management.


Sometimes, you might get a glowing referral while you're not job hunting. Use your employed status to your advantage because employers prefer to hire candidates who already have jobs. Let the interviewer know you weren't looking for a job, but are intrigued by the company culture or challenges of the role.

> A colleague I worked with on (relevant project) mentioned that I'm a great fit for this role.
> (A mutual contact) recommended this opportunity, and I was impressed when I learned more about the company.

Personal Circumstances

Be careful how much information you reveal if you quit your job for personal reasons. While your situation may be relatable, interviewers may still make snap judgments about your abilities. Keep your responses simple, and avoid anything that makes you seem out of practice. Here are some examples.

> I took time off to care a family member.
> I left to try entrepreneurial work, but I miss being part of a team.
> For family reasons, I prefer to work closer to home.

Mastering interview techniques can help you succeed, even if you quit your job under bad circumstances. Learn to answer questions with tact, so interviewers don't dwell on tough topics.

Photo courtesy of GT AMSA at


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