19 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job (Interview Answer for 2024)

11 April
18 min read
Background Image

“Why did you leave your previous job?” is one of the most common job interview questions.

And rightfully so! 

If you left your job without a solid reason, chances are you might do the same in the job you’re currently applying for.

And since replacing an employee takes time, effort, and money, it only makes sense for the hiring manager to make sure that you’re not going to quit on them, too.

But what is a good reason for leaving a job?

That’s where this article comes in.

We’re going to cover:

  • Why the Reason You Left Your Job Matters
  • 19 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job With Examples
  • 9 Tips for Answering This Interview Question Right

So, let’s get right to it!

Why Does the Reason You Left Your Job Matter?

How you performed at your last company is a good indicator of how you’ll perform in the next.

And considering how expensive replacing an employee is, you can’t blame hiring managers for wanting to make sure you’re the right candidate.

That’s why so many of the most common interview questions are related to your past experiences, including “Why did you leave your last job?”

But this interview question can feel like an interrogation, especially if you left your previous job on bad terms. How can you know if your answer is good enough for the hiring manager?

First, let’s cover the three things hiring managers want to know when they ask you this question:

  1. They want to know if you were fired and why. Being fired is a huge red flag for hiring managers, even if you were fired unfairly.
  2. They want to understand if the reason you quit your last job is something that applies to their company, too. (E.g.: if you were overqualified for your last position, you might be overqualified for this one, too.)
  3. They want to understand what you value in a job and what your aspirations are. (E.g.: if you quit your last job because it didn’t allow you to grow, the hiring manager will know that career growth is your priority right now.)

As you can see, the way you answer this question can give hiring managers a lot of information about you as a candidate. That’s why you always have to be prepared before your upcoming job interview.

Getting ready for your job hunt? Start by learning how to write a resume with our step-by-step guide.

19 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job

Now that you know why this interview question is important, let’s go over the best reasons you can have to leave a job.

#1. The Job Didn’t Align With Your Career Goals

Sometimes, even if you love working somewhere, the job just doesn’t align with your career goals.

You might have had a great experience working as a bar manager, but if you were studying to become a paralegal during that time, the food and beverage industry just isn’t in your future.

Or maybe you just learned everything you could from your current role and stopped growing as a professional. Once you hit the glass ceiling, it’s time to move on to newer and more exciting projects.

Whatever the case is, here’s how you can explain this reason to the hiring manager:


I felt like the job just didn’t align with my career aspirations anymore. I loved working there, but I got my university degree and wanted to move on with my career.

#2. You Were (Unjustly) Passed Over a Promotion

You worked hard for years, hit and exceeded your KPIs, and proactively led projects…

But when the time came, you didn't get promoted.

Maybe your old company hired someone externally, or they promoted someone that you know wasn’t as qualified as you are.

Either way, it’s a completely valid reason to want to switch jobs.

Here’s how you could explain it to a hiring manager:


I did great at my last job. I consistently achieved all the KPIs and managed to complete [project] ahead of schedule over the [time period] I spent working there. But after all that time and effort, they didn’t promote me to [position], which I found very demotivating.

You could also choose the minimalist route and just say:


I realized that [previous company] wasn’t giving me the opportunities for growth that I need at this stage of my career. So, when I saw the ad for [company you’re applying for], I thought it was a chance to take that next step.

#3. You Weren’t Satisfied

Feeling undervalued, unappreciated, or just generally unsatisfied with your job is a common reason to look for a new one.

When you think your efforts and contributions are going unrecognized, you can become disengaged and completely demotivated.

Maybe you consistently exceeded expectations as a customer service representative, but your previous company never adopted a bonus system or expanded its benefits package.

Or maybe the company you were working for just didn't foster a sense of belonging, and you never felt like part of the team.

In the end, the result was the same - you just didn’t feel satisfied working there.

Here’s how you could explain this during a job interview:


While I enjoyed a lot of things about my previous job, ultimately I just didn’t feel satisfied. I was never picky about the schedule or the responsibilities that came with the job; in fact, I was even consistent with exceeding our targets. But that just got overlooked. So now I’m looking for an environment where my hard work will be appreciated more.

#4. You Got a Better Deal From Another Company

Leaving an employer because you got a better offer from a different company is a perfectly valid reason to quit your job.

Whether they offered you a better salary, benefits, or just a working arrangement, you can use this as a reason when the hiring manager asks, “Why did you leave that job?” during your job interview.

As for the answer itself, go for something short and sweet:


I left [previous company] because [next company] just offered me a better position.

#5. You Want a Better Salary

One of the most common reasons people leave jobs is for better compensation.

And while a better salary is a completely normal reason to leave a job, it's generally not recommended to discuss this directly during a job interview.

So, instead of talking about money, you'll want to focus on things like career development opportunities or being able to maximize your skills and experience. Highlight how the role you’re applying for aligns better with your long-term goals.

For example, you could say:


While I was grateful for the opportunities at my previous company, I felt like I wasn’t using my skills and experience to their full potential. I'm looking for a job that will let me grow, so I can take my career to the next level.

Mentioning your plan to advance in your career and professional development is viewed a lot more positively than straight up saying you want a bigger paycheck.

But at the end of the day, finding a job that compensates you properly is important. Just remember to emphasize your career aspirations and how the new role you’re applying for is a better fit overall.

#6. You Want a Better Work-Life Balance

If your previous job left you too exhausted to pursue your hobbies and interests, no one can blame you for wanting a change of pace.

Whether you want to have more free time so you can pick up new skills or the job made you burn out, hiring managers can understand where you’re coming from.

In fact, a lot of companies encourage their employees to find a healthy work-life balance.

So, here’s how you could explain your situation during an interview:


My previous job just got overwhelming. I ended up doing a lot of overtime and got so exhausted that I couldn’t find time for myself anymore. I needed a fresh start, and I saw that at [company] you prioritize employee health much more, so it looked like a great opportunity.

#7. You Don’t Get Along With Your New Boss or Supervisor

They say employees don’t quit companies, they quit managers.

And you had the most amazing boss ever.

They were compassionate, charismatic, had great leadership skills, and trusted you to manage your work.

But when they left that position, the person who replaced them was the complete opposite.

Maybe your new supervisor gets angry too easily, micromanages all of your work, or is generally just unpleasant to work with.

So, you decided to switch jobs.

We don’t blame you - life’s too short to work with someone worthy of a Horrible Bosses spinoff.

In that case, here’s how you can convey this during your next job interview:


Once my supervisor left the company, the work environment just wasn’t the same. The person who replaced them started micromanaging my work, which I don’t enjoy. So, I thought I might as well try somewhere new, too.

#8. Your Family Circumstances Changed

Sometimes family obligations mean you have to make changes to your work situation.

This could mean becoming a stay-at-home parent and needing a more flexible work arrangement, or having to take care of an elderly relative or other loved one.

Whatever the case in your specific circumstances, putting your family first is a respectable reason for leaving any job. Most employers will understand and appreciate your dedication to your family.

Here’s an example of how you could explain this during an interview:


My previous job made me travel a lot, and that made it increasingly hard to balance my responsibilities at home after my children were born. Now I’m looking for a job that isn’t as demanding, so I can be more present for my family.

Alternatively, you might have ended up with an employment gap that you can explain just as easily.


Unfortunately, my grandfather's health took an unexpected decline, so I decided to take care of him. Now that his health has improved, I can get back on track with my career, and I thought this position was the perfect opportunity.

Hiring managers will appreciate your priorities and understand that family comes first sometimes. Just be prepared to reassure them of your unshaken commitment to the job.

#9. You Had Personal Issues to Deal With

No one can expect you to put work above all else.

Your family, health, and personal life are all important, so if a personal emergency got in the way of your previous job, it’s an acceptable reason to quit.

If this is your reason, here’s how you can explain it to a hiring manager:


I used to work a lot of night shifts, but they were interfering with my health, so I had to stop. Now I’m looking for a job that sticks to daytime hours.

#10. You’re Overqualified for the Job

Let’s imagine you’re the perfect sales representative:

  • You close every other sale call you get on.
  • You haven’t missed a sales KPI in years.
  • In your previous roles, you were always on the Employee of the Month board.

But the job you recently started doesn’t take advantage of your greatest skills

Instead, you’re sitting in the back seat, warming up leads for other sales staff instead of doing what you do best.

If this isn’t a good reason for leaving a job, we don’t know what is.

Is this the case with your current employer? Then here’s what you can say during your next job interview:


The role didn’t exactly match my expectations, and I think I was significantly overqualified and underutilized. Instead of focusing on what I’m good at, like cold, outbound sales, I was just warming up leads for other sales reps who weren’t as good at closing them. I think that led to a lot of missed sales for the company, and I’d rather have a job where I know I can make a difference.

#11. You (or the Company) Relocated

Sometimes changes in your living situation make continuing your previous job impossible.

This could be the case if you moved and your commute became unreasonably long, or if you relocated to an entirely new city or state where your old job just wasn't feasible.

Here’s how you can explain it:


When we bought our house, we relocated to the other side of the city, and my daily commute became about three hours long. It just wasn’t sustainable in the long run, so now I'm looking for an opportunity closer to home.

The relocation doesn't necessarily have to be on your end, either. Maybe your company closed down the local branch you worked at and offered to transfer you, but relocating wasn't something you wanted.

In which case, you can explain it like this:


My last company ended up closing down their regional office here and offered to transfer me to their headquarters across the country. But relocating just wasn't an option for me, so we unfortunately had to part ways.

Regardless of who relocated and why, it's a perfectly good explanation for why you left your last job, as long as you're upfront about it.

#12. You Want to Work Remotely

In the past few years, remote work has become an increasing priority for a lot of professionals.

Maybe you were previously working remotely, but your company started rolling back its work-from-home policy.

Or maybe your job could easily be done remotely, but you haven’t been given the possibility.

Either way, finding a remote position to improve your work-life balance and overall convenience is a reasonable explanation for leaving your last job. You could phrase it like this:


While I appreciated my time at [previous company], my daily commute was over an hour one way. I started as a remote employee, but they’ve since removed that option, and it became frustrating getting to the office. Since my job responsibilities can be done entirely remotely, I'm looking for an opportunity that lets me work from home and reduces wasted travel time.

Hiring managers are generally understanding people's needs for a greater work-life balance, so if this is your reason, you won’t surprise them. Just be ready to reassure them that you can still be productive working from home.

#13. You Changed Careers

Sometimes people reach a point where they realize their current career path is no longer aligned with their interests or goals.

So, when that happens, making a career change is the best decision.

For example, let's say you were a web developer but have now decided to pursue your dream of working in publishing. When you’re applying for a job as an editor, you might say something like:


Being a web developer was fulfilling for a while. I worked at a great company and learned a lot of interesting things, but I realized I’m a lot more passionate about literature than code. I want to put my writing and communication skills to use, and I think the position at [company name] is just what I need to grow in an environment that truly inspires me.

When you’re changing careers, it's important to highlight any transferable skills from your past experience that will be valuable in your new role, along with your enthusiasm and commitment to this new professional path.

Most employers understand that personal interests and priorities can evolve over time. As long as you can explain your motivations clearly and show that you have the necessary qualifications, hiring managers can see your career change as a great step toward meaningful work.

Not sure what career path you should take? Check out these 101 career paths for every personality.

#14. Company Dynamics Changed (In a Bad Way)

Like people, companies tend to change over time.

Maybe you were working at your dream company, but after it merged with another company, things just weren’t the same.

Or maybe a new management team stepped in and completely changed the company’s culture.

Whichever the case might be, it’s a very valid reason to leave a job.

So, if that’s why you switched jobs, answer the interview question like this:


The company changed drastically after the merger with [other company] and the new management took over, which I personally didn’t enjoy. The atmosphere at the office changed completely, so I decided it was time for something new.

We recommend taking the time to research the company you’re applying for and highlighting what you like about them when you answer this question.

#15. Your Role Was Changed

Sometimes your role at a company can shift over time and take you further away from the work you enjoy.

Maybe you got new responsibilities that didn't align with your interests or skills, or your duties changed entirely from what they originally were.

Say you were hired as a video game animator and the role allowed you to work on exciting projects. But gradually, more and more of your time was devoted to onboarding and training new hires instead of actual animation work.

Here’s how you could explain this in an interview:


My role at [company] unfortunately shifted away from animation and towards training over the years. I initially loved the creative, hands-on nature of game development. However, I found myself spending more time instructing others than being able actually to do the work I love.

#16. The Job Didn’t Match Your Expectations

Imagine that you find an ad for the perfect job.

It’s challenging, interesting, has competitive pay, amazing benefits, and everything else you’re looking for.

But when you actually start working there, you realize that not everything is like you imagined it would be.

The tasks you’re working on are boring and unrelated to your career path. The supervisor is micromanaging you at every step, and the company culture is just… well, not it.

This, too, is a perfectly valid reason to leave a job.

So, when they ask you, “Why did you leave that job so soon?” at your next job interview, here’s how you can answer that:


The job didn’t actually match the job description. I was expecting to work as a React developer, which is the skill I wanted to grow, but it instead involved working with a very obscure framework. It just wasn’t related to the career path I imagined for myself, so I knew it wasn’t the place for me.

#17. You Want More Stability

Sometimes circumstances at your workplace can make you feel like your job is uncertain.

Maybe the company was going through budget cuts, which led to widespread layoffs and furloughs.

Or maybe they'd been hiring and firing frequently, which left you uncertain about your position at the company.

In situations like these, it's perfectly reasonable to start looking for a role that offers more stability and peace of mind.

Here’s how you could explain it to a hiring manager:


Unfortunately, my previous company experienced significant financial difficulties that led to multiple rounds of layoffs. As much as I liked my role there, the general instability made it hard to feel secure in my job. Now I’m looking for an opportunity with a more established organization where I don't have to worry about that.

Just be careful when you’re describing your previous company - you don’t want to badmouth your previous employer or talk about how you hated your job.

When you’re talking to the interviewer, keep the focus on how you want a role in the long term, so you can confidently invest your time and effort.

#18. You Were Laid Off

So, you were laid off.

It happens, and it’s okay to be up-front about this.

Layoffs are normal, and in a lot of cases, it’s something that’s out of your control.

Maybe the software engineering company you worked for got acquired, and the buyer decided to downsize.

Or maybe the store’s revenue fell significantly because of outside factors, and they had to cut costs by reducing the number of cashiers.

In any case, it’s okay to let the interviewer know about it.

Here’s an example of how:


The project I was working on got canceled, and since the company didn’t have any openings for other projects, they had to let me go. That said, I’m still very close with the management team at [company], and if you’d like, I can provide a reference.

#19. You Were Fired

Okay, this one’s a bit tougher than the rest of the reasons.

Let’s start off by saying this: getting fired is okay. A lot of people out there have gotten fired.

In some cases, getting fired isn’t your fault - the manager didn’t like you, or the expectations for your role were too high. 

Even if that’s not the case, as long as you learn from your mistakes and from the experience at the company that fired you, you can still make a compelling case as to why your next employer should hire you.

But what isn’t okay is lying about why you were fired or about being fired at all.

Here’s an example of how you should talk about this during your next interview:


I was fired because there was a mismatch between the job and my understanding of it. I expected the role to be more focused on illustrations, which is what I’m great at, but I ended up doing a lot of UX/UI work instead. That isn’t necessarily my strong suit, nor is it what I want to do with my career. So, I underperformed in the role, and the management didn’t like my output.

How to Explain Why You Want to Leave Your Job

There are three different contexts in which you have to explain why you decided to leave a previous job.

These include:

  1. When filling out a job application. In a lot of online job application forms, you might find a version of the question, “Why do you want to quit your current job?”
  2. During a job interview. One of the most common questions hiring managers ask is, “Why did you leave your last job?”
  3. While quitting your current job. If you’re about to quit your job, your current employer is probably going to ask you, “Why are you making this decision?”

Let’s look at how you should explain your reasons in each of these situations.

#1. How to Fill In “Reason for Leaving a Job” In a Job Application

For starters – no, you don’t have to specify why you quit your previous job in your resume or cover letter.

However, sometimes, when you’re filling out an online job application for a specific company, you might find a variation of the question, “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Make sure that you’re consistent with your work history.

For example, if you say that you quit because you don’t like working in retail, but your past three roles were as a retail worker, a potential employee may find it weird. 

And keep in mind that the hiring manager will probably ask this question again during your interview.

So, your answers should match. If you suddenly give them a completely different answer from your job application, the hiring manager will see that as a red flag.

#2. How to Answer the Interview Question “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

When it comes to answering this during your job interview, you need to answer gracefully.

You should never assign blame or badmouth your previous company. Even if there is a problem, you should say it as objectively as possible.

For example:

Correct Example:
  • My manager was micromanaging the team’s work too much, which led to decreased productivity.
Incorrect Example:
  • My manager was so unprofessional! I couldn’t stand him.

And if the reason you quit is because you were fired or laid off, don’t lie about it. The interviewer will find out eventually, so you’re better off being up-front about it.

Just be specific about why you were let go and explain how you learned your lesson and treated the whole thing as a growing experience.

Ultimately, what the interviewer wants to know is why you’re the right candidate for their company, and this single interview question isn’t going to tell them that.

If you want to make sure you ace your interview, you need to prepare ahead of time and learn the full-proof formula to answer any interview question.

#3. How to Tell Your Current Employer You’re Quitting

Once you tell your boss you plan on quitting, they’re likely going to ask you to explain why.

Your employer will ask so they can understand what led you to this decision, so answer honestly.

Just remember to be respectful. Even if you’re quitting because you don’t get along with your supervisor, now is not the time to vent about how much you can’t stand them.

Instead, give specific information and feedback. This could help your employer make the workplace better and ensure that future employees have a better experience.

For example, if you quit because of the inflexible working hours, your feedback might lead to your employer making a positive change down the line. You might not get a lot out of this, but you might unknowingly improve the working conditions for whoever takes your place.

If you’re not already deadset on quitting, maybe you can talk to your employer, and they can remedy the issue.

Sometimes, your boss might give you a counteroffer or suggest working with you to fix the problem. If you’re open to this, go for it!

But if not, quit as intended - no harm, no foul.

Just don’t burn any bridges. You never know where life may take you - you might end up working with some of the same people again. So, stay on good terms with your previous manager and coworkers, and expand your professional network.

resume templates cta

9 Tips for Explaining Why You Left Your Job

Before you get ready to answer, “Why did you leave your last job?” take a look at these expert tips to help you ace your interview:

  1. Prepare your answer. Always prepare and practice your answer to this question before your interview. Tailor it to each potential employer so that it resonates with their values and the role you’re applying for.
  2. Have a positive attitude. Focus on the positive aspects of your decision to quit and what you’re looking for next, instead of dwelling on any negative experiences.
  3. Answer honestly. Make sure your reason for leaving is truthful. You don’t need to give the hiring manager a detailed backstory, but the reason should be truthful.
  4. Adjust for the employer. Whatever your reason for leaving is, use it to highlight what a good fit this new company is. Make a comparison between what they’re offering and what you were missing with your previous employer.
  5. Keep it brief. Your explanation should be straightforward and to the point. The hiring manager likely doesn’t want your life story, so a brief answer is more than enough.
  6. Don’t gossip. Regardless of your personal experiences, don’t speak negatively about your previous employer, managers, colleagues, or the workplace as a whole. It’s going to leave a bad impression on the hiring manager if you do.
  7. Focus on the future. Emphasize what you are looking for in your next role and how it aligns with the company or position you’re interviewing for.
  8. Highlight learning. Discuss what you learned in your last job and how you plan to apply these lessons moving forward. Alternatively, you can highlight what you learned during the time you were between jobs. 
  9. Avoid mentioning money. Even if your primary reason for quitting was better compensation or benefits, frame it as if you’re looking for better growth opportunities instead. Talking openly about money is considered poor taste during an interview.

Key Takeaways

Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of our guide.

Now that we’ve taught you all you need to know about how to answer this tough interview question, let’s do a small recap of everything we’ve learned so far:

  • Interviewers ask, “Why did you quit your last job?” because it tells them a lot about you as a candidate and what you value.
  • There are plenty of respectable reasons to leave a job, and hiring managers can be very understanding. You just have to present your explanation gracefully and as objectively as possible.
  • If you were fired or laid off from your last company, you should always tell the hiring manager upfront. They’re going to find out anyway, and it’s better to do it on your terms.
  • There are three cases in which you’re likely to be asked why you’re leaving your current job: when filling out an online job application, during an interview, and when submitting your resignation letter.