The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

October 27, 2017

How to Communicate what is Motivating you to Find New Work


The question of “why did you leave your last job” or “why are you looking to leave your current job” is always asked at some point during the interview process. As recruiters, it is a question we always ask candidates as it’s a means of learning what motivates the candidate to pursue new work. It’s important to answer this question honestly however some approaches are better than others.

Variations to these Questions

Why are you looking for a new position now? This question is directed at an employed candidate considering a job change.
Why did you leave your most recent position? This is for candidates not currently employed but have past experience.
Why did you leave X? This question is targeted at specific past experience. Any content on your resume is fair game so you should be prepared to talk about anything on there, including past experience that isn’t necessarily the most recent position you’ve held.

What Employers Seek from Your Answer

Did you leave for a good reason? Employers want to know that your reason for leaving is justified. They seek loyalty and level-headedness from a new hire and therefore want to know from your answer, that you are not partial to leaving a job on a whim or without good reason.
Did you leave of your own volition? If you were laid off, employers want to know why. Was it performance-based? Was the company forced to make cuts? It’s important for an employer to understand the reasoning.
Did you leave on good terms? If it’s clear to the employer that you had and still have, a good relationship with your previous manager and colleagues, that goes a long way in showing that you are not one to burn bridges and can end a working relationship professionally and without hard feelings. Having a previous supervisor as a reference on your resume is more evidence of the quality of employee you have been and indeed can be, to a new employer.

How You Should Answer the Question

Throughout the interview process, you should always make sure that you are coming off as desirable as possible. Rather than posing it like you are leaving a bad situation, broach your answer like you are excited to pursue a new and better opportunity. Be honest but be sincere. Do not put down your old company. Keep your answer light and positive. Of course, the reality of leaving a job isn’t always the most positive, strive to emphasize positive aspects of the situation. If you were laid off, play up your excitement for new challenges despite the unfortunate circumstances. If you feel like there are details of your situation that the employer need not know, withhold that information.

Every situation is different. Your recruiter will work with you to tailor a response that is appropriate to your circumstance. Overall, the most important takeaway is that you are honest and positive. It can be a difficult question to answer but being prepared for it can certainly remove any fear and concern you may be harboring.

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