In this post, I first share with you a fool-proof structure you should use, regardless of the specific situation you’re in (e.g. a bad boss, or slow career progression).
Then, I go through a full sample answer I used as a management consultant applying for a role at Google!
In a nutshell, the ETP method helps you structure your answer to “why do you want to leave your current job” around 3 pillars:
Your answer should demonstrate to the interviewer that you are dignified and professional and will not talk negatively about another company or boss. And the way to do this is to simply keep this part of your answer short, honest, and to the point.
Although it’s important to fully answer your interviewer’s question in explaining why you want to leave your job, keep your prepared response to 1-2 sentences.
This might result in you oversharing and risk giving the interviewer an impression you only have negative things to say about your current employer, even if that’s not your intention in the first place.
You might also hear advice saying to avoid this part altogether and instead focus only on the new role you’re applying for, but interviewers are generally wise to this sort of “non-answer” and will follow up by saying “wait so why are you leaving your current job again?”
The rule of thumb here is word the negative information carefully, use phrases that keep the mood positive, and allow your interviewer to read between the lines.
Here’s an example of this part in action and you’ll see this again at the end in my sample answer:
The main reason why I'm currently looking for a job, and especially interested in this role at Google, is because after 2 years in management consulting, I've realized that I am someone who likes to see the impact of my actions in a shorter time frame.
Also note that I threw in a small trick there.
I’m supposed to be explaining why I’m looking for a new role, but I also stated “I’m especially interested in this role at Google”, giving the impression that if it weren’t for this specific role, I might not be looking, and this gives me a little bit of leverage.
This part of your answer should demonstrate you are not just making stuff up, by providing a concrete example as to why you’re considering leaving your current job and also tying that to the new role you’re applying for.
When done correctly, this part of the answer should convince the interviewer, indeed there seems to be a slight mismatch between your strengths and what your current role asks of you... but hey the new job seems to be a much better fit!
Let’s see how a good transition sounds like:
For example, during my time in consulting, it would be months after the project had already ended before I get a thank you message or email from the client saying they adopted our solution.
Don't get me wrong, I love to hear that. But I think it would be amazing to see that solution go live and continue improving it and making optimizations.
And this is exactly why I'm so excited about this key account manager role at Google. I understand that as an account manager, I would be able to work with clients on their Google Ads accounts. Meaning I would literally be able to see how my recommendations would impact their revenue and spending within 24 hours.
Hopefully it would take at least 1 more replay for you to pinpoint the exact moment I pivoted from the negative aspect about consulting to what I look forward to in the new role, because the interviewer shouldn’t really even notice you’ve moved on from just answering "why are you leaving your current job."
For this part, you want to demonstrate your interest, your excitement, your potential for the new role by making some educated assumptions based on the research you’ve done so far.
The reason you make these “educated assumptions” is because it shows the interviewer you know what you’re getting yourself into. In other words, ok it seems like there’s a slight mismatch in your current job but moving forward, that issue should not exist.
Ideally at this point, the interviewer should be completely convinced whatever reason it is you’re looking for a new job, that’s not going to be a limiting factor to your success in the new role.
Putting all this together, here’s how my final answer looked like when I first interviewed for the sales position here after 2 years in management consulting:
So Jeff, tell me, why are you looking to leave your current job?
Sure, the main reason why I'm currently looking for a new opportunity, and especially interested in this role at Google, is because after 2 years in management consulting, I've realized that I am someone who likes to see the impact of my actions in a shorter time frame.
For example, I've been on 4 projects over the past 2 years and more often than not, it would be months after the engagement had already ended before I get a message or email from the client saying "hey by the way Jeff, we implemented the supply chain model your team built for us, and we're seeing some cost savings. So thanks a lot!”.
Don't get me wrong, I love to hear that. It probably means more return business for my partner, but I think it would be amazing to see that model go live and continue improving it and making iterations.
And this is exactly why I'm so excited about this key account manager role. I understand that as an account manager, I would be working with clients on their Google Ads accounts. Meaning I would literally be able to see how my recommendations impact their revenue and spending within 24 hours.
Not only will those results, good or bad, give me real-time feedback and help with my decision making, but it also serves as motivation for me to deliver the best product solutions for that client.
Furthermore, I understand as an account manager, we act like marketing consultants to the client businesses. So my background in management consulting and the skills that come with that experience - project management, influencing without authority, powerpoint and excel skills - all come into play as well.
And that's the main reason why I'm currently exploring new opportunities and why this key account manager position at Google is at the top of the list.
So as you can see, I’ve refined the answer a little and re-emphasized at the end why I’m specifically interested in this role, not just any role.
Check out my Common Interview Questions and Answers playlist!