The Best Answer to ‘Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?’

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Questions like “Why do you want to leave your current job?” or “Why do you want to change careers?” might hit a delicate spot in you. Who knows, maybe you have been working in a toxic workplace for a period of time, or you suddenly realize this job is not the right call. However, is that what the recruiter really wants to know? Well, yes and no

There are two things recruiters want to get out of that question, 1) an honest and positive answer, and 2) a meaningful reason behind your decision. According to a former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, you should be careful when approaching a question that starts with “why” because it immediately puts you on the defensive. So, it is a matter of how you could balance your answer between being truthful while restraining from bad-mouthing your previous employer.

The ETP answer structure

Jeff Su, Google’s Product Marketing Manager, shared that the best answer to the question of why should be using the ETP answer structure. ETP structure revolves around three main pillars; Explain, Transition and Potential. By adopting this structure, you can prepare your answer structurally while minimizing the chance you are going off a tangent when elaborating your reasons.

  • Explain

Use this part exclusively to reveal your reasons for changing jobs while keeping them positive. During the explanation, you are going to show the recruiters how professional you are as an employee. So, no, never tell recruiters how horrible your boss has been treating you no matter how much you have suffered.

The key is to be straightforward and honest. You should prepare 1-2 sentences for this part ahead of the interview to keep you from ranting your personal feelings, especially if you really don’t like your current job. Instead of being brutally honest, try paraphrasing your negative experiences into sentences that keep the mood positive.

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  • Transition

This part is where you abridge yourself in your current role to what your future might look like in your new job. Your goal is to convince the interviewers that indeed there is a mismatch between your strengths and your current role, by providing a concrete example.

  • Potential

Impress the recruiters in this part. You want to prove that you have done your research thoroughly and are practically excited to face new challenges and contribute in your new role. When showcasing your potential, your arguments should be backed up by facts from the research you have done about the role you are applying for. In the end, it should show the interviewer that the mismatch you face in your current job should not exist in your new role.

The best interview tip is to always come prepared. Write your sample answers and carefully edit them to finally represent the real situations. Your answers should not only be convincing enough but also honest because, as you go along in the interview, it will be hard to keep the narrative consistent and sustainable if you are not telling the truth. Lastly, practice in front of your mirror as many times as you can! Good luck!

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