17 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job and How to Answer Why You Quit During a Job Interview

There are many good reasons for leaving a job, even one you like. But before you quit, you need to confirm that it is the right thing to do.

Your job offers several benefits, including career growth, a chance to meet new people, and, of course, money. But it can also be stressful, boring, isolating, and soul-sucking.

Think of the benefits you gain by staying (such as a steady paycheck) versus those you gain by leaving. Changing jobs doesn’t guarantee a better situation, so it’s not always an easy decision.

You also need to consider how you will explain why you left — because it will come up during your job search. With your friends and family, it’s okay to say that your boss is a jerk or you hated everyone at the office, but you can’t say this to an interview panel!

“Why are you leaving your current job?” or “Why are you looking for a new job?” are common interview questions that might also appear on a job application.

Here are some common reasons for leaving a job, with tips on how to honestly and professionally answer why you left.

Wait! Before You Quit

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If you’re here because you are thinking about quitting, it’s probably time to find a new job. But you have to plan what you will do after quitting your job before you hand over your resignation letter.

Leaving a job without another one lined up will leave you in a place no one wants to be: unemployed.

With no income or plan in place, you will start eating into your savings; before you know it, you will have nothing left. So please don’t rush this decision.

How to Answer the ‘Why Did You Leave Your Last Job’ Question During Interviews

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There isn’t one standard way to answer “Why are you looking for a new job?” or “Why did you leave your last job?” It really does depend on what your reasons are.

Although it may seem invasive, hiring managers want to assess your integrity, honesty, and fit. They also genuinely want to know why you left. For instance, if you were fired, was it for a just cause? If you went back to school, what did you learn?

Regardless, your answer needs to be:

  • Honest: Before you are hired, the company will contact your previous employers as part of its background check. A single contradiction could cost you the job.
  • Short: The more you talk, the more likely you will say the wrong thing, especially if you left your previous job on bad terms. Keep your answer concise and to the point—two or three sentences are enough—and then redirect the conversation back to highlighting your qualifications. And if they don’t ask, don’t tell!
  • Positive: Avoid saying anything negative about your former employer and focus on the good experiences you had. For instance, talk about your interactions with clients instead of your relationship with your boss, or put a positive spin on it, such as what you learned from the experience or how it helped you grow.

Use the examples below to prepare what to say and how to say it based on your situation.

1. You Hate Your Job

exhausted woman resting at her desk on her phone
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Is hating your job a good enough reason to quit? It might be. But you may not like your next job either. Or the one after that.

Before quitting, evaluate why you hate the job. Is it because your colleagues don’t support you? Is your boss too bossy? Does the job take too much of your time? Try to resolve the issues and see if that changes how you feel. Quitting should be the last option.

That said, don’t invest too much of yourself into something that will never work. You only have so much power to change things within a company – but you have the power to switch to a different company altogether.

Explaining that you quit your last job because you hated it there without raising red flags is tricky but possible. And yes, you can still be honest about it, too.

Example Answer:

“At my previous job, there was a disconnect between my skills and interests and the responsibilities and environment of the role. It became clear to me that to continue growing professionally, I needed to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I’m now eager to bring my skills and enthusiasm to a role where I can make a real difference and feel like part of a supportive team.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Honesty: It acknowledges dissatisfaction with your previous job without dwelling on negativity or blaming anyone.
  • Positive Outlook: Believing in finding a better fit and contributing meaningfully elsewhere showcases resilience and a forward-thinking attitude, which are admirable traits.

2. You Were Passed Over for a Promotion

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You might feel like you deserved the recent promotion someone else got, and now you’re upset and thinking about quitting. Before making any hasty decisions, take a step back and give yourself time to think about it.

Was the other person just as qualified as you, if not more? Have they worked on more successful projects? Have they been with the company longer than you?

Instead of quitting, consider what you can do to improve. Better yet, go to your supervisor and ask them what else you could be doing. You may be closer to that promotion than you think.

Or they may give you completely bogus reasons, and moving on is the best thing for you and your career. In that case, by all means, start looking for a new job.

Here’s what you can say when you get to the interview stage.

Example Answer:

“I left my previous role because I felt my potential for growth wasn’t being recognized and I wasn’t advancing as I had hoped. After discussing my concerns, it became clear that there were limited opportunities for progression. So, I decided to seek new challenges where I could contribute effectively, leading me to apply for this position.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Shows Initiative: Discussing concerns with supervisors and taking proactive steps to address the issue shows your willingness to advocate for yourself.
  • Focus on Career Growth: The answer underscores your commitment to personal and professional growth.

3. There Is No Room to Grow

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You can only advance and be promoted if there’s another role to promote you to. When I worked at a small non-profit, the only position above mine was management, which I was not interested in. So it didn’t matter how good I was at my job. If I wanted to move up, I had to move on.

If you are also in this situation, here’s what you can say.

Example Answer:

“After reflecting on my career goals, it became apparent that there was limited potential for progression within the organization. I’m eager to join a company where I can continuously learn, grow, and take on new challenges that will help me progress in my career.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Clarity: It is clear and straightforward, providing a direct explanation without any ambiguity.
  • Openness to Change: This openness to exploring different environments and roles suggests adaptability and a readiness to take on challenges outside your comfort zone.

4. You Want a Bigger Paycheck

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We all need more money, but there is more to a job than just a paycheck.

Now, hear me out. You may get a better-paying job elsewhere, but what if it means working longer hours? Or a longer commute that will increase your transportation costs? These will rob you of your free time and time with your family and friends. You may no longer be able to attend your children’s talent shows or Friday pizza nights.

Don’t only focus on your take-home pay. Your current employer may offer good health insurance, 401(k) matching, and other benefits you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. There may be other work perks, too, like working from home or access to training programs to enhance your skills. Consider these factors when you are evaluating different jobs.

However, studies have shown that switching jobs leads to earning more than those who stay with the same employer. So, by all means, move on to something new if that means you’ll be making more money. Just don’t let the salary be the only reason; you still want to do something interesting that gives you a work-life balance.

Example Answer:

“Although I enjoyed the role, the compensation didn’t align with my financial goals. After careful consideration, I realized that I need to pursue opportunities with financial stability for my personal and professional well-being. So, I decided to explore new avenues where I could be fairly compensated for my skills and contributions.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Transparency: The response is straightforward and honest, building the interviewer’s trust.
  • Personal and Professional Considerations: It shows that the decision was made after carefully considering both personal and professional factors, demonstrating your maturity and foresight.

5. You Are Changing Careers

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It is also understandable to make a career change because your interests, values, or lifestyle have changed. I started my career in arts education, working all hours (due to evenings and weekend classes), and the pay was terrible. So, it wasn’t long before I was applying elsewhere.

Example Answer:

“Initially, I pursued a career in arts education, but over time, I realized the demanding schedule and low pay were not sustainable for me. I learned a lot from this job, but the communication skills I have developed better align with the projects companies like yours have to offer. I’m excited about transitioning into [new career field], where I can leverage my skills and make a meaningful impact while maintaining my personal and professional life.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Specific: It specifies the challenges faced in your previous career, such as demanding hours and low compensation, clarifying the reasons for seeking a change.
  • Focus on Transferable Skills: Highlighting how the communication skills learned can be useful in your new career shows you know your strengths and can use them in different jobs.

6. You Don’t Want to Return to the Office

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Remote work might be the only good thing to come out of the last few years, but many companies are phasing out remote roles and mandating a “return to the office” (RTO).

A ResumeBuilder.com survey of 1,000 companies found that 9 out of 10 will return to in-person work by the end of 2024. Although 64% say they will still offer hybrid roles, having to go into the office even once a week doesn’t work for everyone.

Many people moved, assuming they could continue to work from home. Others simply dread that time-consuming commute or can’t afford it. Transportation expenses, child and pet care, and domestic assistance costs add up to an average of $561 per month for employees returning to the office.

If you’d rather keep that money in your pocket or have relocated, frame your answer like this example.

Example Answer:

“I’ve found remote work to be incredibly beneficial for both my productivity and work-life balance over the past few years. However, with the recent mandate to return to the office, I’ve had to reconsider my circumstances. Continuing remote work would be the best option for me at this time.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Clear Preferences: The response clearly states your preference for remote work and sets a straightforward expectation.
  • References Strengths: Mentioning that working remotely is good for productivity highlights one of your key strengths.

7. You Are Relocating

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On that note, moving somewhere new, whether it’s because you need to or want to, is also a good reason to quit your job. Unless you can work remotely or there is another branch you can transfer to, it’s really your only option. It’s also easy to explain.

Example Answers:

“My partner has accepted a job in another state, so my family and I are moving.”

“I’m currently seeking new opportunities because I’m relocating to a different city to be closer to family. I’m excited about exploring new professional avenues in [the new location].”

Why These Answers Works:

  • Realistic: People move and need to find new jobs.
  • Situational Change: This explanation shows that seeking new employment is driven by personal circumstances rather than dissatisfaction with your current job.

8. You Work in a Toxic Environment

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Uncooperative colleagues, a difficult boss, and a company that does not provide the resources you need all constitute a toxic working environment.

If you face these challenges and cannot perform your duties, try to solve the problem. This could mean talking to your boss, your HR department, your union, or seeking medical help from your doctor or a counselor.

But if the issues persist, it’s time to leave. Your mental health has to come first.

Example Answer:

“I’ve decided to move on because I’m looking for a more supportive and positive workplace where I can grow professionally. I’m excited about finding a workplace that aligns better with my career goals and values.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Maintaining Professionalism: Not criticizing your current workplace or pointing fingers helps preserve your professional reputation.
  • Focuses on Positive Aspects: Rather than dwelling on negatives, the response focuses on the positive attributes you want in a new job.

9. You Were Laid Off

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Maybe you didn’t quit your previous job but were let go. Being laid off from work is nothing to be ashamed of. Companies are always downsizing or going out of business.

In this case, a good answer would be simple and direct.

Example Answers:

“There was some restructuring at the company, and my position was affected.”

“Due to organizational changes, my position was eliminated, and I was let go from my previous job.”

Why These Answers Works:

  • Focuses on the Future: The response stays optimistic by briefly addressing the reason for departure and transitioning to discussing future opportunities.
  • No Fluff: There are no unnecessary details needed or given.

10. You Were Fired

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Being fired, on the other hand, is a little tricky. Although trying to cover it up is tempting, you should be honest about it. The truth usually comes to light at some point, so you might as well address it now.

Find the right balance between acknowledging what happened without saying anything more than necessary. Try to use terms like “let go” and “dismissed” instead of “fired” – it may sound like strange advice, but it softens the impact.

In your response, show them that you can own up to your mistakes and that you’ve learned from them.

Example Answer:

“As the business grew, I could no longer keep up with the workload. I spoke with my manager several times, letting her know and asking about getting additional help. Unfortunately, no one else was added to the team, and I was eventually let go. While it was not the outcome I had hoped for, I now have stronger organizational and problem-solving skills because of it.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • No Emotions: This answer shares the facts about what happened, not your feelings.
  • Soft Language: Saying ‘let go’ instead of ‘fired’ makes the situation sound less harsh. ‘Fired’ often has negative associations, like someone did something wrong, while ‘let go’ sounds more neutral, like it just didn’t work out.

11. You Don’t Like Your Boss

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The saying “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” is common for a reason. Having a bad boss is awful – and I’ve had my fair share. Poor leadership is a valid reason to leave your job, whether there was some restructuring and your new manager can’t manage very well or just can’t handle your boss’s bad decisions anymore.

Honesty is key but choose your words wisely to avoid sounding rude or unappreciative.

Example Answer:

“After a management changeover, my last role was no longer a good fit for me. I learned that I thrive in a proactive environment rather than a reactive one, and I am pursuing opportunities with more forward-thinking companies.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Invites Further Discussion: This response opens the door for further conversation about your skills, experiences, and career objectives, leading to a more engaging and productive interview.
  • Action Plan: The answer ends with a clear statement of intent: you are actively pursuing opportunities with more forward-thinking companies.

12. The Schedule Doesn’t Work For You

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The 40-hour, 9-5 workweek does not apply to all jobs, which can be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for. These days, jobs have all sorts of different schedules. That 9-5 might actually be more of an 8-6 (plus that half hour you spend checking your work email before bed).

Working too many hours, not enough hours, weekends, night shifts, being on call… if the schedule doesn’t work for you, find a new job with a schedule that does.

Example Answer:

“I left my last job because the schedule wasn’t working for me. I found it difficult to balance my personal life and work commitments due to the irregular hours and long shifts. I realized the importance of having a more stable schedule for my overall well-being and productivity, which is why I’m seeking opportunities with more predictable hours.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Relatable: The interviewer likely wouldn’t want to work unpredictable hours either, so this answer resonates with them.
  • Not Concerning: If the job you’re interviewing for follows a fixed schedule, this response should be fine as it doesn’t apply to the current position.

13. Health Reasons

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Being sick can affect your work performance, just as work can deteriorate your health.

If you are injured or unwell, you may need to leave your job to fully recover. Or an illness affecting a close family member may require you to leave your job to take care of them.

However, if you are considering leaving your job for a medical reason, you may not need to quit. See if your insurance has any medical coverage. You may also qualify for government support, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Take full advantage of whatever income support you can get before you resign.

However, for long-term medical needs, you may have no choice but to leave until you recover.

Example Answer:

“I had to leave my last job because I was facing some medical issues that made it difficult for me to perform my duties effectively. I needed to prioritize my health and focus on getting better. Now that I’ve recovered, I’m eager to return to work and contribute to a new team.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Discretion: The response demonstrates professional discretion by avoiding excessive disclosure of your personal medical details while effectively communicating the seriousness of your health situation.
  • Legal Compliance: In some jurisdictions, employers are prohibited from asking about specific health conditions during hiring. This answer navigates around potential legal constraints while still addressing the question.

14. Personal Reasons

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Personal reasons for leaving a job vary and often revolve around significant life events or responsibilities. For instance, being a parent may necessitate leaving a job to care for your children. Burnout, resulting from prolonged stress or overwork, can lead you to prioritize your mental and physical well-being by taking time away from the workplace.

Your job is not your life – even if it sometimes feels like it is. You don’t have to share the specifics when asked in an interview.

Example Answer:

“I had to leave my last job because I encountered some personal challenges requiring immediate attention. It required a significant amount of time and attention, making it challenging to balance work commitments. I decided to temporarily step away from my job to focus on these responsibilities. Now that the situation has improved, I’m ready to return to work with renewed focus and dedication.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Demonstrates Adaptability: The decision to step away from the job temporarily reflects your adaptability and ability to handle unexpected circumstances.
  • Reassuring: Despite facing personal challenges, this response can reassure the interviewer that you are motivated, responsible, and ready to re-engage in the workplace with renewed dedication.

15. The Job Wasn’t What You Expected

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A one-page job description and an hour or two of interviews don’t tell you what a job will actually be like day to day.

Surprisingly, a lot of people quit their new jobs — about a third within 90 days, according to one study – primarily because the job wasn’t what they were led to believe. Some even quit on their first day (I’ve done that once!).

I’ve helped employers find and hire new employees, and yes, some purposely made the role sound much better than it was just to fill the role. But most were just absolutely clueless about what their employees actually do all day. Each scenario sets you up for failure and disappointment, so why you would choose to leave is clear.

Example Answer:

“I left my previous job because it didn’t match what I was looking for. When I joined the company, I was eager to contribute and grow within the role. However, as I became more involved in the day-to-day operations, I found that the reality didn’t match the picture I had in mind. So, I decided to move on and find a better fit.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Decision-making: Your answer shows agency and decisiveness by stating that you chose to move on and find a better fit rather than passively accepting a situation that wasn’t fulfilling.
  • Engagement: Your eagerness to contribute and grow within the role highlights your commitment to professional development and your willingness to invest time and effort in your career progression.

16. You Are Pursuing Your Education

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Advancing your education is always a good idea. But if you want to pursue a degree or specialize in an area of interest, it may be impossible if you also have a job.

The number of hours you work, how much time your classes will take, and your schedule for both will determine whether you have to quit or if you can manage a job and school.

Some courses are part-time or online, making it possible to keep your job and pursue your education simultaneously. But if you are going to be a full-time student, keeping a full-time job probably isn’t feasible. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin and fail your classes or struggle at work.

Example Answer:

“I left my previous job because I decided to go back to school. I felt it was important to continue my education to improve my skills and knowledge in my field.  Now that I’ve completed my courses, I’m eager to apply my new skills and knowledge to a new role.”

Why This Answer Works:

  • Shows Your Value: Completing courses suggests you have gained up-to-date knowledge and skills, making you a more valuable asset to any organization.
  • Competitive Advantage: Employers gain a competitive edge by hiring individuals who continuously invest in their professional development. Your commitment to learning signals you are motivated to excel, aligning well with the organization’s goals for growth and success.

17. You Have a Better Job Offer

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Perhaps the best reason to quit is that you have a better offer and want to pursue it—particularly if the new job offers career growth, better hours, flexibility, increased pay, a promotion, and/or personal satisfaction.

Since you already have the offer, you won’t have to worry about interviewing for now. But in the future, you might need to explain why you switched jobs, which is easy to do.

Example Answers:

“I switched jobs because I was offered a better position. It allowed me to grow in my career and take on more responsibilities.”

“I made the decision to switch jobs because I was presented with a more promising opportunity. The new role offered a better fit for my skills and provided a chance for me to make a greater impact in my field.”

Why These Answers Works:

  • Career Advancement: Taking on more responsibilities and growing your career are green flags in an interview, so don’t be shy about it.
  • Shows Initiative: Rather than waiting for opportunities to come to you, you proactively sought a better position that would allow you to progress in your career, reflecting well on your initiative and ambition.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

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Now that you know how to answer questions about leaving your last job, why does it come up in job interviews?

Hiring a new employee costs the company money. Therefore, they ask questions about your background to understand you better and determine if you are the best candidate or if you will quit this job, too.

Did you leave on good terms? Was it for valid reasons? Did you leave on your own, or were you let go? If you were fired, do you take appropriate responsibility for what happened?

They want to know!

They also want to check your integrity by assessing whether your answers hold up. For example, if you say you left your last job because of a lack of growth opportunities but later say it was due to a conflict with your supervisor, this inconsistency can make you look dishonest or deceptive.

How to Tell When It’s Time to Leave a Job

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You may have good reasons for leaving your job, but how do you know when it’s the best time to go?

You need to evaluate your life, not just your job. Ask yourself:

  • Is my current role helping me grow in my career?
  • Am I getting the right pay for my qualifications?
  • Can I get a better job with another company?
  • Am I unhappy with something temporary or fixable?
  • Can I fix the problem?
  • Is the company, industry, or my specific role undergoing major changes?

Your answers to these questions will help you determine if it is time to call it quits or if you need to stick it out a little longer.

How to Tell Your Boss That You’re Quitting

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When it’s clear that you need to move on and quit your job, you have to do it right.

First, understand that not everyone will support your decision, so be ready for different reactions.

Write a resignation letter detailing your reasons, schedule a meeting with your supervisor, and hand it over. It’s common to give two weeks’ notice, but you can provide as much notice as you see fit. If the issues causing you to quit are urgent, you may leave your job effective immediately. Or, your employer may decide not to accept your notice and terminate your employment sooner.

When drafting your letter, remember to be courteous no matter how bad your experience was. You don’t need to go into detail; a short, simple explanation will suffice.

Also, remember to say thank you for the opportunity and leave on good terms – you never know when you may need a former colleague or boss to help you out in the future.

Preparing for the Next Steps in Your Career

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Do you have a good reason to quit your job? A clear plan on what you will do next, like a new job? A way to support yourself (and your family) if you’ll be out of work?

If you do, go ahead and leave gracefully. Let your manager know, write a resignation letter, and leave with your head held high.

If not, stay where you are until you have these things in place. Start job searching, update your resume, and prepare to explain why you’re leaving with a clear, precise, and honest answer.

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