Lady in white blouse getting interviewed for her new career

Smart and Best Answers for Reason for Career Change in Interview 

General | 08 Sep 2023

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Job interviews are crucial occasions to highlight not just your skills but also your adaptability and future-focused outlook in the always changing world of employment prospects. What's your rationale for a job shift is a question that commonly comes up during these interviews, and it has the power to either advance your application or leave it stuck in neutral.

We're getting into the craft of offering insightful, understandable, and persuading answers to this significant query in this post. Simply giving direct, energetic replies can help you ace your next interview and open the door to your desired job shift. There is no need for technical language or complicated explanations. 

Gain Insight into Your Interviewer's Perspective

Imagine stepping into your interviewer's shoes. They're eager to uncover the motivations behind your career change, providing a window into your character and your ability to articulate your decision-making process. Depending on how effectively you convey your reasons for transitioning, some interviewers may raise an eyebrow, so it's crucial to present a compelling case for your job change.

Also read Beyond Traditional Applications: Creative Ways to Stand Out to Employers

If you are a risk-taker or a doer

Interviewers are often curious about your appetite for change and your ability to take calculated risks. They want to know if you're the kind of candidate who actively pursues growth and is unafraid of stepping out of their comfort zone. To address this aspect, consider highlighting any instances in your previous roles where you took initiative, tackled challenges head-on, or proactively sought opportunities for improvement. Demonstrating your proactive and action-oriented nature will leave a positive impression. 

Getting to know what drives you to change your career

Interviewers are keen to understand the underlying motivations driving your desire for a career change. What is it about your current or past career that has left you seeking something different? While you don't need to delve into overly personal details, you should convey a clear and rational explanation for your decision. Perhaps you've outgrown your previous role, or you're looking for a new challenge that aligns better with your skills and aspirations. Sharing your thoughtful reasons will help interviewers see the purpose behind your career change.

Understanding your relationship with your previous employer 

Your relationship with your previous employer can reveal a lot about your professional demeanor and adaptability. Interviewers might be interested in knowing how you handled any difficulties or conflicts in your previous workplace. Be diplomatic and constructive in your response, focusing on your ability to work collaboratively and navigate challenges effectively. Emphasize your commitment to maintaining a positive and professional attitude, even in the face of adversity.

Also read 7 Tips to Impress Hiring Manager

Top reasons for career change

You're now committed to making a career change, and as you prepare for an interview with your potential new employer, consider the following scenarios. These scenarios can serve as valuable insights to help you effectively address the challenging question  "What motivates your decision to change jobs or companies?"

When you don’t like your company 

This decision could stem from a variety of reasons. It might be that you find the company's values and mission don't align with your personal beliefs, or perhaps you've encountered a toxic workplace culture that hinders your professional and personal growth. Dissatisfaction with management, lack of recognition, or limited opportunities for advancement can also contribute to this desire for change.

What to say

"I'm seeking a change because I believe that finding a workplace that aligns better with my values and work style will allow me to thrive professionally."

What NOT to say

"My current company is terrible, and I can't stand working there."

When you want a higher pay 

Beyond just seeking a bigger paycheck, you may be driven by the need to secure a more stable financial future for yourself and your family. This change might also reflect your recognition of the market value of your skills and the desire to be fairly compensated for your contributions.

What to say 

"I'm looking for a position that better compensates my skills and experience, and I believe your company values and rewards talent appropriately."

What NOT to say  

"I'm only here for the money."

When you don’t like the company environment 

The company environment encompasses not only workplace culture but also the relationships you build with colleagues and superiors. If you find that the environment is fraught with conflict, micromanagement, or a lack of support, it can significantly affect your job satisfaction and career trajectory.

What to say

 "I believe that a more collaborative and inclusive work environment, like the one I see at your company, will help me thrive and contribute effectively."

What NOT to say  

"My current workplace is toxic, and I can't wait to leave."

When you are looking for more professional growth 

Seeking professional growth often indicates a desire for challenging and meaningful work that allows you to continually develop and enhance your skills. This might be driven by a sense of stagnation in your current role or the belief that your potential is not being fully utilized.

What to say  

"I'm excited about opportunities for advancement and skill development, which I believe your company can provide."

What NOT to say  

"I'm stuck in my current job, and there's no room for growth."

When you have personal reasons 

Personal reasons can encompass a wide range of circumstances, such as family needs, health issues, or the need for a better work-life balance. These changes often reflect a commitment to maintaining overall well-being while pursuing a fulfilling career.

What to say  

"I have personal commitments that require me to seek a more flexible work arrangement, and I believe your company can offer that."

What NOT to say  

"I need more personal time, so I want an easier job."

When you want to pursue other goals 

A shift in career goals might be inspired by newfound interests, passions, or a desire for a more purpose-driven career. It can also result from a feeling of disconnect between your current job and your long-term aspirations.

What to say  

"I have new career goals and aspirations, and I'm seeking a role that aligns better with them."

What NOT to say  

"I'm bored with my current job and want something more exciting."

When you want work flexibility 

A desire for flexibility may arise from personal commitments, like caregiving responsibilities or pursuing further education. It can also indicate a preference for a more adaptable work arrangement that allows you to excel in your role while accommodating your life outside of work.

What to say  

"I value work-life balance and believe that flexibility in work hours or remote work options can enhance my productivity."

What NOT to say 

 "I want a job where I don't have to work much."

When you get a better job offer 

Landing a better job offer often reflects your market value, skills, and experience. You may be seeking a role that not only recognizes your expertise but also provides enhanced job security, benefits, and career prospects.

What to say  

"I received an offer that aligns more closely with my career goals and offers a compelling package."

What NOT to say  

"I'm leaving because they're paying me more."

When you have to commute too much for your current job location 

Extensive commuting can be physically and mentally draining, impacting your overall quality of life. A change in job location might be prompted by a desire to minimize commute time and invest more in your personal life.

What to say  

"My current job requires an extensive commute, which is affecting my work-life balance and overall productivity. I am seeking a role closer to home to utilize my time more efficiently and contribute effectively."

What NOT to say  

"I hate my commute; that's why I'm here."

When you get fired or laid off 

While this can be a challenging situation, it may also present an opportunity for self-reflection and redirection. A job loss can sometimes lead to a career pivot or exploration of new paths that better align with your skills and goals.

What to say  

"I faced a restructuring/layoff at my previous job, which was a result of company-wide changes. I'm excited to find a new opportunity where I can apply my skills and experience."

What NOT to say 

"I got fired because my boss didn't like me."

When company culture/ethics doesn’t match yours 

Misalignment in company culture or ethical standards can lead to feelings of discomfort and frustration. Seeking a better fit in this context reflects your commitment to maintaining your principles and values in your professional life.

What to say  

"I believe that a company's culture and ethics play a vital role in fostering a positive work environment. I'm seeking a workplace that shares my values and principles to ensure a harmonious and productive collaboration."

What NOT to say 

"My last company had terrible ethics."

When you don’t get along with your teammates 

Strained relationships with colleagues can create a hostile work environment and hinder collaboration. A shift may be prompted by the desire to work with a team that promotes camaraderie and mutual support, allowing you to thrive.

What to say  

"While I value teamwork, I encountered challenges in my previous team dynamics that hindered collaboration. I'm excited about joining a new team where I can contribute effectively and thrive."

What NOT to say 

 "My colleagues were terrible, and I couldn't stand them."

When you have to relocate to another city/state/country 

Life changes such as marriage, family expansion, or personal growth opportunities may necessitate a move. You seek a job in the new location to maintain career continuity while adapting to your evolving circumstances.

What to say  

"A significant life change has necessitated my relocation to [new location]. I'm enthusiastic about continuing my career in this new environment and believe it's an opportunity for personal and professional growth."

What NOT to say  

"I have to move, so I need a job here."

When job responsibilities don’t match the posted job description 

 This situation can lead to a feeling of being misled or underutilized. You're looking for a role that genuinely aligns with your skills, experiences, and career objectives.

What to say  

"While my previous role had some overlap with the posted job description, I'm eager to leverage my skills and experiences to contribute effectively in this position."

What NOT to say  

"My old job was nothing like what you're offering."

When you don’t get timely training and development 

Your commitment to ongoing learning and career growth drives you to seek a role that invests in your professional development. This reflects a proactive approach to staying competitive and valuable in your field.

What to say  

"I value continuous learning and professional growth. I'm looking for a role where I can access opportunities for training and development to stay current and excel in my field."

What NOT to say  

"My last company never invested in my development."

Tips for Explaining Why You Are Changing Careers

Landing your dream job takes a little legwork and research - this goes especially if you are changing your career. Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you prepare for your interview:

What SHOULD you do

  • Be honest but diplomatic: Provide truthful reasons for your job change while avoiding negative language or criticisms about your current or previous employer.

  • Frame your reasons positively: Highlight what you are moving toward, such as career growth or alignment with your values, rather than dwelling on what you are leaving behind.

  • Prepare in advance: Practice your response to common interview questions about job change to articulate your reasons confidently and clearly.

  • Tailor your answer: Customize your response to the specific job and company you are interviewing with, emphasizing how the new opportunity aligns with your career objectives.

  • Keep it concise: Be succinct in your explanation, avoiding excessive detail, especially if your reasons are personal or sensitive.

  • Show enthusiasm: Express excitement for the new role and organization, demonstrating your eagerness to contribute and grow within the company.

  • Connect to your skills and experiences: Relate your reasons for change to your skills, experiences, and professional development, explaining how the new role will allow you to leverage your strengths.

  • Highlight growth and learning: Emphasize your desire for continuous learning and professional growth, mentioning any steps you've taken to improve your skills or knowledge.

  • Use specific examples: If relevant, provide specific examples or instances from your previous job that illustrate your reasons for change, making your explanation more compelling.

  • Be prepared for follow-up questions: Anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer and be ready to address them, such as explaining the circumstances if you were laid off and what you learned from the experience.

What you SHOULDN'T do


  • Don't criticize or vent: Avoid using negative language or criticizing your current or previous employer. Stay professional and focused on your motivations for change.

  • Don't focus on what you dislike: Refrain from dwelling on aspects of your current job that you dislike. Instead, emphasize the positive aspects of the new opportunity.

  • Don't exaggerate or fabricate reasons: Be truthful about your reasons for changing jobs. Exaggerating or fabricating reasons can be detrimental to your credibility.

  • Don't blame others: Avoid blaming colleagues or superiors for your decision to change jobs. Take ownership of your career choices and aspirations.

  • Don't sound bitter: Maintain a professional and positive demeanor throughout the discussion. Sounding bitter or resentful can raise red flags for potential employers.

  • Don't overshare personal details: While it's okay to mention personal reasons, avoid sharing overly personal or sensitive information that may not be relevant to the job change.

  • Don't appear disinterested: Even if your current job is unsatisfying, avoid giving the impression that you're disinterested or just seeking any job. Show genuine enthusiasm for the new role.

  • Don't neglect the company's perspective: While explaining your reasons, consider how the job change benefits both you and the prospective employer. Highlight how you can contribute positively to their organization.

Bottom line

Shifting your career and stepping outside your comfort zone can be one of the most transformative decisions you'll ever make. Countless success stories attest to the power of finding your professional purpose in unexpected places. While challenges may arise along the way, they are integral to your professional growth.

When embarking on a career shift, it's crucial to consider how you communicate this change to potential employers. Effectively conveying your reasons for the transition and showcasing your unique value are essential. The key to leaving a lasting impression on interviewers is to stand out in a positive and professional manner.

Avoid the temptation to speak negatively about your previous company or work experiences, as maintaining professionalism is paramount. Embrace authenticity and emphasize your strengths, even if your niche differs from theirs. Companies that welcome career shifters value diverse perspectives, and you're a valuable addition to their team.

Remember, the path to success in your new career begins with standing out and confidently demonstrating the value you bring to the table.

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