Interview Question: Why Did You Quit Your Job?

Young woman at a job interview.
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One of the questions that is usually asked during a job interview is "Why are you quitting your job?" or "Why did you quit your job?" if you have already quit.

Interviewers like to ask this question because it really reveals a lot about you, such as: 

  • Did you leave this position voluntarily, or were you fired or laid off
  • Are you on good terms with the company? 
  • Does your reason for quitting seem valid or reasonable? Your answer offers a window into your on-the-job character and values. 

    Prepare answers to typical job interview questions, like this one, in advance. Practice your responses so you sound positive, and clear, about your circumstances and your goals for the future. 

    Not sure what to say? Review the suggested responses below, along with tips for the best way to respond to questions about why you left a job. Then, tailor your own response to fit your circumstances. 

    Sample Answers

    • I quit my job because my supervisor retired. I felt that after many years of working in the office that it was time for a change and this seem like the ideal time to move on.
    • I was able to take advantage of an early retirement offer due to company downsizing and am ready for a new challenge.
    • I resigned to focus on finding a job that is closer to home and will use my skills and experience in a different capacity.
    • I don't have room to grow with my current employer and I'm ready to move on to a new challenge.
    • I'm looking for a new challenge and to grow my career and I couldn't job hunt part time while working.
    • I have been volunteering in this capacity and love it. I'm seeking to turn my passion into the next step of my career.
    • I was laid-off from my last position when my job was eliminated due to downsizing.
    • After several years in my last position, I'm looking for a company where I can contribute and grow in a team-oriented environment.
    • I am interested in a new challenge and an opportunity to use my skills and experience in a different capacity than I have in the past.
    • I recently achieved certification and I want to utilize my educational background and technical skills in my next position.
    • I am interested in a job with more responsibility, and I am very ready for a new challenge.
    • I left my last position in order to spend more time with an ill family member. Circumstances have changed and I'm more than ready for full-time employment again.
    • I was commuting and spending an hour each day on travel. I would prefer to be closer to home.
    • To be honest, I wasn't considering a change, but, a former colleague recommended this job to me and was intrigued by the position and the company. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and an ideal match for my qualifications.
    • This position seemed like an excellent match for my skills and experience and I am not able to fully utilize them in my present job.
    • The company was downsizing and I thought it made sense to seek another position before my job was eliminated.

    Tips for Responding 

    There are all sorts of reasons to leave a job. Maybe you want a higher salary, thought the company was in chaos, despised a new manager, or were laid off. Not all of these responses should be shared during a job interview, however. Be honest, but also strategic in your response - avoid any answer that reflects poorly on you. Here are some tips for how to develop a strong response:  

    • Avoid negativity: Do not speak poorly of managers, colleagues, or the company. You can, however, speak broadly about company goals or mention that you disagree with the direction the business is pursuing. Just don't get personal in your response. Being negative won't reflect well upon you. Plus, industries can often be small: You could easily speak negatively of a co-worker only to have that person be your interviewer's former colleague.  
    • Be honest: You don't have to tell the whole truth. But you should tell something that reflects the real reason you are leaving. Let's say you're frustrated by a lack of opportunities. Lead off by describing some of the things you have been able to accomplish, and then pivot to saying how you no longer have opportunities to learn and develop your skills. Bonus points if you can tie your answer back to why the job you're applying for is a better fit, and will offer you new, exciting opportunities. 
    • Practice: Because you want to be honest - but not overly frank - in responding to this question, it's a good one to practice ahead of time. That will help you feel comfortable answering. That's particularly true if you were laid off or fired - this question can be particularly nerve-wracking to answer in that case. But just give a short, clear, and unemotional response. 

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