Interview Question: Why Did You Quit Your Job?

African American woman reading a resume while taking interview of a Caucasian woman
••• Eric Audras / Getty Images

One of the questions commonly asked during a job interview is, "Why did you quit your job?" 

Interviewers like to ask this question because it 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?

How you answer this question offers a window into your on-the-job character and values.

If you're not sure what to say, review the suggested responses below. If you're still working, but about to quit, then alter your responses accordingly. You'll also find tips for the best way to respond to this difficult question.

Every situation is unique, so be sure to 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 it seemed like the ideal time to move on.
  • I was able to take advantage of an early retirement offer due to company downsizing and now I 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 didn't have room to grow with my previous employer.
  • I have been volunteering in this capacity and love this kind of work. I want 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 am looking for a company where I can contribute more and grow in a team-oriented environment.
  • I am interested in a new challenge and want to use my skills and experience in a different capacity than in the past.
  • I recently achieved certification and I want to utilize my educational background and technical skills in my next position. I couldn't accomplish this goal in my previous job.
  • I am interested in a job with more responsibility.
  • I left my last position in order to spend more time with an ill family member. Circumstances have changed and I am ready for full-time employment again.
  • I was commuting and spending an hour each day traveling back and forth. 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. I looked into the position and was intrigued by the position as well as the company. What you're offering sounds like an exciting opportunity and ideal match for my qualifications.
  • The position seems like it correlates with my skill-set. Unfortunately, in my last job, I wasn't able to fully utilize my training and experience.
  • The company was downsizing and I thought it made sense to find another position before my job was eliminated.

Tips for Responding 

There are all kinds of reasons to leave a job. Maybe you want more money, thought the company was in constant chaos, your new manager never provided guidance or direction, or, you were laid off. However, not all of these responses should be raised during a job interview.

You need to be honest, but also strategic in your response. Avoid any answers that reflect poorly on you.

Here are some tips on how to develop a response that will be well-received: 

  • Avoid negativity: Do not speak poorly about managers, colleagues, or the company. However, you can speak broadly about corporate goals or mention that you disagree with the direction the business is taking. Be sure not to get personal in your response. Industries can often be small and you don't who knows who. You may speak negatively about a co-worker only to learn he or she has a close relationship with the interviewer. 
  • Be honest: You don't have to tell the whole truth. Just be sure to focus on the real reason you are leaving. For example, you can say you were frustrated by the lack of opportunities. Leadoff by describing some of the things you accomplished, and then pivot to saying you were roadblocked as far as being able to accomplish more. You'll score bonus points if you can tie your answer back to why the job you're applying for is a better fit because you'll be afforded more opportunities. 
  • Practice: Practice your responses so you come across as positive and clear. Practicing (especially in front of a mirror) will help you feel more comfortable answering this difficult question. This is particularly true if you were laid off or fired. In a situation like that, give a short, clear, and unemotional response.