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Why are you leaving? How to answer the most difficult interview question of all

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Why are you leaving? How to answer the most difficult interview question of all

Karen Lloyd interview, candidate

This might be one of the most awkward moments in an interview.  It’s really important you think about this in advance to not be caught out on the day.

We do not advocate telling porky pies, but it is really easy to put off a hiring manager so you do need to think about how you present your answer.

Why would you consider leaving a marketing job?  Marketers do tend to move around a fair bit and surveys cite job opportunities, progression, salary and a desire for flexible working as some of the most common reasons.  These are fairly standard, but what about when your reasons aren’t so easy?

Don’t get on with your manager or colleagues?  Your working environment is toxic?  You don’t agree with the company ethos or direction?  Your job has changed or you’re having performance issues?  To help with these more challenging situations, we thought we’d put together a quick summary of our do’s and don’ts. 

DO be as honest as you can!  Telling an outright lie will inevitably come back to bite you which can lose you the role at a later point.

DON’T badmouth your current employer.  But, don’t be afraid of constructive criticism if you can frame it positively.  E.g. if you’re leaving because of a restructure and don’t like the new direction of the company, turn it to a positive that links to the company you are interviewing for.  

You could answer, “I’m looking to work for a business that puts its customers at the heart of its proposition and my current company is moving in a different direction”.

DO be enthusiastic about this new opportunity.  It’s always better to present yourself as moving towards a new opportunity rather than fleeing a bad one.

DON’T be defensive if you were previously let go. It’s an emotive topic but try to keep your language neutral. For example, “After a restructure, my manager decided to take my role in a direction that wasn’t best suited to my skills and experience and instead chose to bring in someone from their previous organisation who was a better fit for the role.”

It’s always a really good idea if you’re worried about this to discuss it with your Recruitment Partner prior to your interview.  They can help you frame your answer and give you some insight into the interviewer and the new business