One of the most frequently asked questions at job interviews is, "Why do you want to resign from your current job?" Knowing how to answer this question confidently can help you present yourself as the best candidate for the job. In this article, we discuss why employers ask this question, common reasons for leaving a job, how to structure your answer and examples to frame your reasoning in a positive way.
Why do employers ask "why are you resigning from your current job ?"
Employers like to ask this interview question because it reveals a lot about you, such as:
- Whether you were laid off and if the reasons were related to your performance
- Whether you are still on good terms with your previous employer
- Whether your reason aligns well with the company's needs
- Whether you are able to demonstrate discretion and avoid saying something negative about your former employer
- Whether you are a serial job-hopper
Common reasons for resignation
There are several reasons why you may search for a new job, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. These include:
- You wanted to work in a different sector or field
- You would like a salary increase
- You're looking for a new challenge
- You want to change career paths
- You wanted to take a break to spend more time with family
- You were let go or laid off
- You don't like the work hours at your current job
- You feel undervalued in your current job
- The company you worked for went out of business
How to answer 'Why do you want to resign from your current job?'
Explaining your reasoning for resigning from your current job in a positive and brief manner helps demonstrate your professionalism to employers. Here are a few steps to answer this interview question effectively:
1. Be clear about your reasons for quitting your current job
Prepare to answer why you are resigning from your current job before the interview even starts. List down why you left your previous role and your goals for your next job. To help you come up with good reasons, think about your passions, career ambitions, values and what you like most about the company or position you are applying for. Then, structure answers that clearly express why you are the best fit for the job and the company.
For instance, if one of your reasons for resigning is that you prefer to work on more team-based projects, you can explain to your prospective employer that you are interested in performing more engaging tasks with your teammates. This tells them that you are passionate about working with others and may bring collaborative and positive energy to the workplace.
2. Stay positive when answering
Make sure to stay positive when explaining why you are resigning from or left a job, even if the reason is negative. Employers prefer to hire candidates who can be honest and open about how they handled difficult situations. Focus on the knowledge or skills you gained in your current role, positive interactions you had with stakeholders or good relationships you may have built with your coworkers.
For instance, instead of saying, "My current role's duties and responsibilities are dull," try something like, "I'm seeking a job with challenging responsibilities that allow me to regularly use my problem-solving skills to overcome them."
Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV
3. Be professional and honest
When answering this question, you don't have to go into all the details. If you find your current role unfulfilling, there's always a way to say it without disparaging your current employer. Keep in mind that the company you are interviewing with may reach out to your previous employer, so make sure that what you've told them is in line with what they will learn from those conversations.
If you are unemployed, be honest about it as well. If they call your previous employer to confirm salary range, start dates or get a reference, this could reduce your chances of getting the job if you have provided different information.
4. Keep your response short
When answering the question, provide a short statement—around two to three sentences long. Make sure your answer is relevant, direct and provides enough reasoning. If your response to this question seems to shift in a negative direction, deflect the focus to how your unique skill set and experience would be ideal for the role.
Some interviewers may probe you to go into greater detail if they suspect you are leaving a job that was not a good fit for you. Remain calm and approach their questions with respect for your previous company. In Hong Kong, the workplace is a dynamic and fast-paced environment. Employers want to know that you are able to handle high pressure situations. Answering this questions gives you the opportunity to show that you can leave with grace and maintain a professional outlook in spite of the situational challenges.
Good examples of reasons for resignation
Preparing an honest response for why you are resigning helps you look more confident in your interview. Here are a few examples of reasons you may give an employer for leaving a job:
Pursuing other goals
If the reason why you left your previous role is to pursue other goals, such as a total career change or going back to school to gain further qualifications, make sure to always focus your answer on your professional development.
Although working as a project manager gave me a lot of creative independence, I realised how much I relished tasks where I could write articles. I began taking on more copywriting responsibilities whenever possible and attended various training courses to develop my copywriting skills further. However, my company doesn't have a copywriting position available for me to regularly use these skills.
Looking for growth in your industry
If your current job provides limited advancement opportunities, it's understandable that you would search for a new job that might help you develop your abilities and skills. When you find a job that could help you advance in your career, make sure to explain this to employers. It shows them your motivation and passion to perform well in your job and take on new responsibilities.
I've learned new skills and gained extensive knowledge from my job, which I'm grateful for. I believe I'm ready to use these newly acquired skills in a position that allows me to easily grow and advance.
Looking for flexible working hours
If you are looking for flexible working hours, make sure to provide an answer that emphasises your ability to manage your time well and balance the demands of your personal life and your job. For example, instead of saying, "I don't want to work so many hours; I would rather be at home," try something like, "My previous role didn't allow the flexible hours I needed to focus on my work and care for my children."
Ways to positively frame reasons for quitting a job
Even if your reason for resigning from your current position is negative, make sure to frame it positively so the employer notices your integrity, professionalism and respect for your former employer. Here are a few ways to positively explain why you are seeking a new job:
You were laid off or fired
Keep in mind that you don't have to disclose to employers that you were fired or let go from your previous job. However, if the hiring manager directly asks in an interview about how your previous employment ended, just provide an honest answer, but make sure to frame it positively.
If you were laid off, focus your answer on the company instead of your performance. For example, you can say, "Unfortunately, my company was absorbed into a larger one and my role became redundant. But, my former company will be glad to provide a reference."
If you were fired, be truthful without going into unnecessary detail. For instance, you can say something like, "Shortly after I was hired, my duties progressed beyond my level of experience. While I enjoyed the challenge of learning on the job, I understand my employer needed someone with more expertise. I'm therefore looking for a job which better suits my skills and interests."
Interested in a different company culture
If you are looking for coworkers who are more engaging and collaborative, tell the employer how important company culture is to you. You can research the company's background by browsing its website or social media pages to gain a better understanding of its culture and employees. You can also read reviews from current and former employees to gain insight into what the company's culture is really like. Explain why you believe their culture aligns with your values and personality.
I want to be part of a team where everyone is passionate about team building and collaboration. After learning more about your company's culture, I have realised how dedicated you are to building a strong rapport between employees through regular team projects and company retreats. This is something that I am also passionate about and I believe I will succeed in this type of environment.
Ready to work under new management
If you want to work under a new manager or supervisor, focus your explanation more on what you are looking for in an ideal boss, instead of the issues with your current role.
I am eager to work for a manager who motivates me to achieve my goals, is willing to teach me new skills and prepares me for role advancements and new challenges later in my career.