How to Answer the Question: Why are You Looking for a New Job?

Catherine Tabuena
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Why are you looking for a new job? It’s a tricky question that could put any job applicant in deep water if not answered correctly. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty answering it without speaking negatively about their past employer – which is never a good idea since no employer wants to hire a complainer. The best method is to follow an “It’s not them, it’s me” approach. Focus specifically on your career goals and the things that attracted you to the new company or role instead. Below are ways to answer the question: Why are you looking for a new job?

Start with the positives. It’s important to begin on a positive note. Describe what insightful knowledge, positive experiences, new skills, and colleague relationships you got out from your current or previous role. You need not give detailed answers, and you don’t have to lie. A simple “I had some great experiences working with the in-house creative team last year. I learned so much about [insert industry knowledge or job responsibilities]” will be sufficient.  

Focus on the future. The best answers to this question are the ones that focus on your passion and career growth. This is especially true if you’re leaving your current job under not so good circumstances. Talk about your career goals, what skills you’d like to learn or improve on, and what you can offer your employer that for whatever reason you weren’t able to do at your current organization. Explain what opportunities their company has that excites you and how you’d like to work with them in its mission.


Show some industry knowledge. Come to the job interview prepared to demonstrate your skills, company knowledge, and industry know-how. You can mention a recent company award you received, a new project you’ve completed, or a valuable high-end client you’ve taken on. This not only shows the recruiter you’ll be a potential asset to their company but also shows them your genuine intention to join the team.

Avoid negativity. Always answer in a way that will cast you in a positive light. You should never trash talk or badmouth your previous employer, no matter how tempting it might be. Don’t speak badly about managers, coworkers, or the company. Depending on your location, some industries are small and professional anonymity may not be possible- everyone knows everyone in that business. You might speak poorly about a coworker only to find out he or she is good friends with the interviewer. Remember to keep your answers classy and professional. For most recruiters, an applicant who openly expresses discontent about their current job is a huge turnoff. In addition, never mention salary and you just need to work. No employer wants to hear that you’re only interested in the paycheck.

Keep it simple. When you answer this question, try not to expand your answers. Give direct answers and be as brief as possible. Often when you’re trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Remember, don’t try to outsmart the hiring manager because the odds are, he or she has heard all those injudicious, half-baked answers before. The best advice I can give you is to prepare your answers in advance, if not, you risk damaging your chances of getting hired. 





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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Brian C thanks for your comment. Do you know how many people would give everything they have just to get an interview?!! We have job seekers who have been searching for a year without even one interview! Attitude can be everything when you are on an interview. If you truly feel that no one cares, you will never get a job offer because these hiring managers can see that in your attitude - in your demeanor. It has nothing to do with being the chosen one!! It has to do with the fact that you had what the company needed - at least on paper - but they could sense that something was just not right. Try going on your next interview with a bit of a a positive attitude and see what kind of results you get. Come back here and let us know.

  • Brian C.
    Brian C.

    The best advice to give is premeditate what questions are going to be asked. ?? !! Routine interviews . Follow ups. I’m new to next .com but the preliminaries of interviews have not changed for years. Treat the meet and greet as cordial invitation to introduction . Use greeting cards and thank you cards as if you can hold a salad fork before the meat fork. . Do the interview clairvoyantly bashing someone. Watched it many times and succeeded. But for the love of god if you have no home because no one will hire you it’s because they really did not care enough about you. It doesn’t matter how awesome the Resume or your skills to help them are. You were not chosen to succeed You were chosen to fill in 30 minutes of there 365 day life to provide a correlation that the hiring manager needed to prove he did something that day but not actually achieving anything.

  • Craig U.
    Craig U.

    I used to be hiring manager. Ability to hire and fire. Especially contractors. 15 min late they are gone.

  • Craig U.
    Craig U.

    I am am retired and getting bored. I am not going to run a burger king be a greeter at Walmart. There is age discrimination in the work force. For Christ sake look at dumb Joe, slow Bernie and trump

  • Mireille D.
    Mireille D.

    Great answer ! Strong handshake and eye contact...

  • Theresa R.
    Theresa R.

    More experience and more room to grow

  • Toni T.
    Toni T.

    Very Smart Read. Thank you for writing/sharing it.

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