How to Answer “Why Are You Looking for a New Job?” (6 Examples)

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Interview Questions and Answers

Actionable advice from real experts:

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Author

Biron Clark

Former Recruiter

Contributor

Dr. Kyle Elliott

Career Coach

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editor

Sanja Bojanic

Editor-in-Chief

How to Answer “Why Are You Looking for a New Job?” (6 Examples)

Published:

Interview Questions and Answers

Actionable advice from real experts:

Biron Clark

Author

Biron Clark, Former Recruiter

Contributor

Kyle Elliott, Career Coach

picture of Sanja

editor

Sanja Bojanic, Editor

When looking for a new position or trying to change jobs, employers will ask why! Without a convincing answer, it could cost you the opportunity.

So in this article, I’ll provide six full answer examples and walk you through:

  • Why interviewers ask why are you looking for a new job.
  • How to answer to impress a hiring manager (including 13 good reasons you can provide).
  • The biggest mistake to avoid when answering.
Highlights
  • Frame your answer around what you want to gain in a new role, rather than negativity about your current or past employer.
  • Be sincere about your reasons but avoid sharing details that might portray you negatively.
  • Rehearse your answer to ensure you deliver it confidently and without hesitation.

Why Do Companies Ask Why You’re Looking For a New Job?

Employers ask this job interview question to assess your antecedent in your previous jobs. They want to ensure you didn’t cause problems at your last company. 

They want to understand your goals so they can hire someone who will be a good long-term fit for the role! 

Available stats show that more than 80% of recruiters believe culture fit is an important factor when hiring. This is because hiring with cultural fit in mind can potentially minimize recruiting and onboarding costs.

They would ideally like to find someone who is looking for career advancement and/or is genuinely interested in their company and position.

Employers might phrase this question in slightly different ways, too, including:

  • “Why are you interested in new job opportunities?”
  • “Why are you looking for a job change?”
  • “Why are you looking for new opportunities?”

You can answer all of these questions in the same way. Coming up, I will share time-tested tips on how to answer the question. With insights gained from years of hiring and coaching top talents, these strategies will help you navigate even the trickiest interview questions with confidence and ease.

While there isn’t one single “correct” answer to why you’re job searching right now, you do need to be ready to give a clear explanation. This isn’t a question where you want to hesitate or draw a blank.

Next, let’s look at a list of acceptable reasons that you can provide when answering this question!

13 Good Reasons Why You’re Looking for a New Job

  1. You were laid off by your previous employer.
  1. Your company is going through layoffs, and although your job hasn’t been eliminated yet, you feel that this is a good time to look for a more secure job opportunity.
  1. You’re looking to grow or take the next step in your career and your current employer can’t offer the type of opportunity you seek.
  1. You’d like to move into management and your employer doesn’t have this opportunity available.
  1. You’d like to change industries.
  1. You’d like to gain exposure to a different stage or size of company to become more well-rounded (for example, looking to join a start-up after spending your entire career in large corporations).
  1. Your current role has changed since you joined the company and no longer fits your career goals.
  1. Your manager or the person who hired you left and you feel it’s a good time to make a transition for yourself, too.
  1. The company has been acquired and you feel this is a good time to move on rather than staying for big changes and restructuring.
  1. You anticipate that the company may struggle financially in the near future and you want to leave before this.
  1. You’re relocating for personal reasons (for example, to be closer to aging parents) and need to find a job in a new city.
  1. You were fired (if you were fired, it’s best to be honest and upfront about it. So while it’s not easy to explain being fired, it’s still a valid reason for why you’re job searching).
  1. You’re not job searching, but a recruiter contacted you and convinced you to take an interview to learn about an opportunity.

How to Answer “Why Are You Looking for a New Job?” – A Step-by-Step Guide

Below is a step-by-step guide that explains how to answer “Why are you looking for a new job” in an interview. 

Self-reflect

Answering this question effectively requires self-reflection. This step involves holistically assessing your motivations for seeking a new opportunity.  

What are your core values and what kind of work environment fulfills you? Will this new job opportunity give you the chance to align your daily tasks and interactions with those values?

By self-reflecting, you can answer these important questions to unearth the underlying reason why you’re seeking a new job.

Exude Positivity

While the circumstances surrounding your exit from a previous job might be less than ideal, you still need to frame your answer positively. 

Focus on what you are seeking rather than what you are trying to escape. Avoid speaking negatively about your current or past employers, as this can come off as unprofessional and may raise red flags for potential employers.

PRO TIP

One trick you can use to avoid badmouthing is to focus on talking about what you hope to gain in your current job search, instead of talking about what you’re looking to get away from.

Describe How the Job Furthers Your Career Ambitions

In your answer, explain how this new role connects to your overall professional ambitions. Your interviewer will be interested in knowing how this new role contributes to your professional journey. Demonstrate how this opportunity aligns with your long-term plans and how it will help you achieve specific milestones in your career.

You want to show them you’re not simply job-hopping for the sake of it. Neither do you want to tell your interviewer your sole reason for wanting the new job is the ease of commute. While this may be true, this response isn’t going to help you get the job offer in most cases.

Therefore, it’s better to ensure your answer reflects the strategic importance of the new role in your career trajectory.

EXPERT ADVICE

Dr. Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES
Tech & Interview Career Coach
caffeinatedkyle.com

Frame Your Job Transition in a Positive Light

It can feel challenging to communicate your motivation for looking for a new role, particularly if you’re unhappy with your current employer. 

Instead of focusing on why you want to leave where you’re at, focus your answer on why you’re interested in the company you’re interviewing with, as you want to avoid badmouthing your current organization. 

Talented recruiters and hiring managers can often read through the lines. Plus, the focus of the interview is on the value you will bring to the next company, not harping on the past.

Highlight the Skills You Hope to Develop

Are there specific skills this new job will help you sharpen? Mention them in your answer. Highlight how this position will enable your professional growth and how your enhanced skill set will add value to the company.

Doing this shows the interviewer you’re eager to get better at what you do. This makes you a more attractive candidate because it demonstrates your commitment to continuous improvement and your proactive approach to personal and professional development.

Practice Your Answer

With these first four steps, you will have a solid answer. The next step is to practice your answer to ensure conciseness. Practicing your response will help you deliver it smoothly during the interview, making a strong and positive impression.

In my interactions with candidates, I can tell you a polished response makes all the difference. It leaves a lasting impression on the interviewer and shows you actually know what you’re saying.

You can rehearse your answer in front of a mirror or simply record yourself. Alternatively, you can practice with a friend or mentor who can provide constructive feedback.

PRO TIP

Overall, you should be honest about why you’re seeking new opportunities, but sometimes it’s best to omit certain details. If you’re currently employed, frame your reason as career advancement or unavoidable personal circumstances, such as needing to relocate due to a partner’s new job.

Why You’re Looking for a New Job: Best Answer Examples

Example Answer #1:

30% of my department was laid off and I was a part of that. I enjoyed the role and learned a lot, but the company had struggled financially for the entire time I was there. 

I’m hoping to find a company that’s in a better financial position so that I can continue learning and growing as a Staff Accountant and take on more responsibilities over time.

One other thing that attracted me to your role was the industry that you’re in. I’ve always been passionate about the travel industry and am an avid traveler myself!

Example Answer #2:

My current role is going well. However,  I’ve been at the company for six years, and I think it’s time to experience another organization to expose myself to new challenges and keep growing professionally.

I’ve known about your organization for many years since we’re in the same industry, and I’ve always liked your line of products. I also read some fantastic reviews from current employees online.

Notice how in both of these answer examples above, I’m concluding by explaining why their job and company interested me. This is a great idea because it shows them that you have specific reasons for wanting to work for them.

Hiring managers always prefer someone who’s excited about their job and company, rather than someone who seems like they just want any job they can find.

So even if the interviewer doesn’t directly ask, “Why are you applying for this position?” it’s often a good idea to explain your reasons and show that you’ve done your research!

Example Answer #3:

My family is relocating to the Chicago area for my wife’s job, so I’m looking to find the next step in my career here in Chicago, too.

Example Answer #4:

“I’m looking to change jobs because my family had to relocate for personal reasons and my commute is now 90 minutes each way. I’m hoping to find a position that’s closer to my home while also providing a great next step in my career. 

I saw that your job description mentions the opportunity to manage client projects with budgets of millions of dollars. That’s something that excited me a lot. I’ve managed 12 projects for my current employer this past quarter, with a total budget of $900,000, so I thought this could be a great potential fit!

Example Answer #5:

“I’ve enjoyed my current company but we’re going through big changes right now. Both of my bosses and the person who recruited me into the company have left the organization, and I feel that it’s a good time for me to look to make a transition as well if I’m able to find the right opportunity.

Example Answer #6:

I wasn’t actively job searching, but a recruiter contacted me and your role sounded like an interesting opportunity.

The story they told me about your company’s history and recent growth caught my attention, so I was hoping to learn more.

One situation not covered in the sample answers above is being fired for performance issues or misconduct. If you were fired and need help explaining it, read this article for guidance.

The Top Mistake to Avoid With This Interview Question

The biggest mistake you can make when answering this question is badmouthing a former boss, coworker, or employer. Never do this!

Whether you were laid off, fired, or are currently employed, it’s better to stay positive when explaining why you’re seeking a change or a new opportunity. Complaining about a previous employer during an interview will only make the hiring manager wonder if you were part of the problem since they haven’t heard the other side of the story.

As a recruiter, I’ve seen this happen many times. Candidates who complain and badmouth their former employers don’t leave a good impression. It makes me question what their former employers would say about them. 

For example, if your last position was chaotic and stressful, and you were laid off due to financial struggles, you should explain what happened without dwelling on the negatives. Instead, focus on what you’re looking for in a new job and why the next company seems attractive to you. This is exactly how I recommend answering, “Why did you leave your last company?” too!

And if you’re currently employed, don’t badmouth your current job or company either.  The less you badmouth, the better!


picture of Biron Clark

About the Author

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions. Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read more articles by Biron Clark


About the Contributor

Kyle Elliott, career coach and mental health advocate, transforms his side hustle into a notable practice, aiding Silicon Valley professionals in maximizing potential. Follow Kyle on LinkedIn.


picture of Sanja

About the Editor

Sanja Bojanic, Career Sidekick's Editor-in-Chief for over a year, expertly curates content to empower job seekers and professionals.