It is was to go from crushing an interview to completely bombing it. In fact I see it often with one question: “So, why are you looking to leave your current role?” This question can make or break. Between mine and my industry colleagues experiences I have compiled several scenarios to help you along the way.

1. Another Company Offered You A Better Deal
Leaving a former employer to take on work with a new employer should never affect your application status. If you left one job to take a position with another company for an increase in pay, a promotion, or simply because you wanted to work for a different company, those are all very valid reasons. When answering this question, you don’t need to list those reasons, simply keep it short and sweet:

“I was offered a position (or promotion) with another company that offered more mobility. My previous role had been a wonderful experience, I learned and contributed a lot, however, the position I accepted, offered more growth.”

“I am looking for a new position that offers more mobility and growth. My current role has been an amazing experience, I have learned and contributed a lot, however, the position I am targeting will offer more growth.”

Short, sweet, and without too many details.

2. You Didn’t Like What You Were Doing
Maybe the job wasn’t one you enjoyed doing, or the job changed from what you originally anticipated it to be. Maybe you just woke up one day and said, “Being an accountant isn’t really what I want to do with the rest of my life, I think it’s time to finally try being what I was always destined to be, a break dancer.” More power to you! In this case, you want to make sure to avoid words like “quit” or “walked out.” Instead try the following:

“I reevaluated my career goals and am looking for other employment opportunities.”

“I am interested in pursuing other possibilities within my chosen career field.”

“I am currently looking for a position better matched to my skills and long-term career goals.”

“I am looking for a position within a company where I can contribute and grow.”

3. You Have Other Life Goals You Want To Accomplish
It is perfectly acceptable to leave a job because you realize that you have other goals you want to accomplish. Prime examples of this include quitting a job to go back to school, travel, work on outside interests or hobbies, or even try self-employment for a time. Although changes like this might leave large gaps in your work history (especially in the case of going back to school) those gaps are not a reason for an employer to be concerned, especially if the ultimate goal was a desire for self-improvement!

“I went back to school to pursue a master’s degree program.” (especially strong answer if what you’ve gotten your degree in relates to the job you are applying for!)

4. Your Old Boss Is No Longer With The Company And You Don’t “Vibe” With Your New Boss
This scenario is not unusual. As the dynamics in any company changes, it can mean working with individuals who might not see eye to eye with you. Of course, we go back to our earlier comment about always keeping your answers positive.

“I am looking for a position with a company where I can be challenged and grow.”

“When my boss left, it made me realize that it was time for a change and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to move on as well.”

5. You’ve Been Working Toward A Promotion That Has Never Come
Man, that sucks. Being at the same job for years and never experiencing a promotion or feeling challenged can be incredibly frustrating. Rather than letting future employers know about that frustration, turn it into a positive!

“I realized that the opportunity to grow wasn’t available to me and that in order to continue to improve myself professionally, it was time to move on.”

“I achieved everything professionally that was available at my last employer and feel that in order to keep improving myself both personally and professionally, that it was time to move onto a new company with more room for growth.”

“I’m interested in a job where I can be given more responsibility and will challenge me.”

6. You Are Overqualified and/or Under-Utilized
We are all on a quest to find the perfect job that satisfies all our needs…but there are also times in our lives when you’re forced to take a job because, well, you need the money!

“Although it was a good job, I felt as though I had learned everything I could and wanted to move on to a new company where I can continue to grow professionally.”

“The job was a good fit for who I was when I initially accepted it, but as I have worked there, I have realized that where I want to go and where the company is going don’t align.”

7. You’re a Part-Timer or Freelancer Looking For Full-Time Opportunities
Being a freelancer is a little different. You’re usually hired for the duration of an assignment and then free to accept other work once that assignment is complete. In this case, a simple “Completion of Freelance Assignment” is perfectly acceptable on a job application. When faced with this question in an interview, you can add a bit to that simple answer.

“As a freelancer, I am contracted for only as long as it takes to finish the task I have been assigned. At this time I’m looking for employment with a company that allows me to use my professional experiences and skill sets in a long term, mutually beneficial professional relationship.”

8. You’ve Had Personal Issues To Deal With
Family always comes first and there are times when you have to step back from a job in order to take care of personal situations. This can be everything from personal health issues to taking care of other members of your family.

“I left my last job in order to take care of a family issue. The circumstances have changed and I now find myself in a position where I’d like to reenter the workforce.”

“I decided to take five years off to start a family.”

“I accepted a position with another company that was closer to home.”

9. You’ve Been Laid Off
Hey, It’s okay. As long as you weren’t laid off due to reasons related to performance or integrity, a potential employer isn’t going to hold it against you…especially if you weren’t the only one laid off from the company at the same time. With mergers and restructuring, it’s not unusual for a company to let go of a group of employees, regardless of performance or skills. Just be honest and let your potential employer know.

“My position was eliminated and I was let go. Although I no longer work with the company, my former manager is one of my strongest references and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about my performance and skills.”

10. You’ve Been Fired
Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, you got fired. Trust me, you’re not alone. Some of the best, most influential people in the world have been fired. As they say in Hollywood, “You’re nobody until you’ve been fired at least once.” Unfortunately, some employers see being fired as a red flag, regardless of what the reasons might be, so saying “I was fired” is not something you want to do in an interview or on an application.

DON’T LIE! But at the same time, there are ways to answer this question without either tanking yourself or talking smack about your last employer (neither of which is a good idea!)

WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BAD MOUTH YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER. I will say it again…DO NOT BADMOUTH YOU FORMER EMPLOYER. I don’t care if you were kept in the worst conditions ever where you were underpaid, forced to endure humiliating situations, and had a clown come into the room every three hours and kick you in the gut…DO NOT BADMOUTH YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER.