10 Rephrases to Explain Why You’re Leaving Your Old Job in an Interview

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Once you’re sitting across from your interviewer, you’re like answering the typical questions: Your strengths, your areas for growth, and your interest in the organization. But there’s a question you might get asked that’s a total minefield: “Why are you leaving your current job?”

It’s tempting to unload all of your gripes with your workplace — but it’s critical that you don’t give into the desire to disparage your boss or organization. In fact, it could cost you the job. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to lie, it just means you need a re-framing of your situation. Here are 10 ways to rephrase reasons for leaving your job that underscore what an exciting candidate you are.


1. “My boss is a nightmare.”

Having a bad boss is a singularly miserable experience, but it’s best not to disparage your current manager in a job interview — it’s just plain bad form. Instead, keep it vague and try something positive about what you’re looking for next: “I’m looking for a boss with more mentorship capacity than my manager is able to provide given the many priorities they have to juggle.”


2. “The CEO is running the company into the ground.”

Oh, boy. You might be completely right: The CEO could have no idea what they’re doing. But try this reframe instead: “The company is moving in a new direction, and my skill set would better serve an organization more aligned with my expertise.”


3. “I hate my coworkers.”

The last thing you want to do is seem like somebody who’s not a team player or is at odds with their colleagues — even if you have total reason to be! Try to talk about the type of team you’re seeking instead of throwing your current colleagues under the bus. Say, “I work in a siloed environment right now, and I’m hoping to be part of a team that works more collaboratively.”


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4. “The pay is garbage.”

If you’re looking to level up your raise, switching jobs is a great way to make it happen. But it’s not in your interest to look like you’re only applying for the job for the raise: Prospective employers want to see that you’re enthusiastic about the work itself. Consider this instead: “We’re under-resourced right now, so unfortunately we’re not always able to meet our strategic goals. I’m excited to work somewhere that can better provide support to take on high-impact projects.”


5. “I’m bored out of my mind.”

This is actually a great thing to vocalize in an interview in very different terms: Say “I’ve learned so much in my current role, but I’m ready for a new challenge. I’m happiest when I have problems to solve and new skills to learn, and this opportunity would let me continue to keep growing.”


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6. “The place is a chaotic mess.”

In this case, you can turn your answer into a question for your interviewer. Try this: “We sometimes struggle with priorities and get lost in the weeds. How do you communicate priorities and goals to the team?”


7. “It’s an HR nightmare.”

This is a desperately difficult position to be in: Maybe you have a boss without boundaries or an HR team who are ineffective at keeping the workplace appropriate. In an interview, focus on moving somewhere with better protocols by saying, “I’m hoping to move to an organization with more established professional standards.”


8. “I have too much work.”

If you’re overworked, you might find relief in a job with clearer expectations — and a transparent system of support. Try: “Priorities can get hazy in my current role, and I’m looking for a role with clear expectations and metrics for success, so that I can dedicate my energy to meeting them.”


9. “No one I work with knows what they’re doing.”

This is an especially frustrating position to be in: Not only do you feel like you have to do everything yourself, but you also can’t seek mentorship or education from your colleagues. Instead of disparaging where you currently work, try to forecast a better future: “I’m interested in working with leaders in the field so I can learn from their expertise.”


10. “I’m absolutely miserable and I’m desperate to get out.”

This is a hard one, and we’ve all been there: a job that feels completely untenable. But desperation isn’t going to get you very far, even if it’s the reality you’re feeling. Instead, make it a positive and say, “I’m extremely enthusiastic about this role and motivated to take on a new challenge.”