Recently I’ve been working with a handful of clients who are interviewing for a new role. This blog post is all about how do you answer the tricky question, why are you looking to leave your current firm?

Why is this a tricky question?

Firstly, you always need to be honest when you answer this question. But not quite honest enough where you share all your and your hopefully-soon-to-be ex-firm’s dirty laundry. Of course, there are some easy answers to this question if your firm has gone bust or you are relocating or you have been made redundant. You can be entirely truthful in these scenarios. You can also guarantee that you will be asked at some point in your interview, why are you looking to leave your current firm?

There may come a point in your career where all you want to do is get out of your current firm; any well-paying job will do. However, you can’t let this come across. Interviewers have a nasty habit of proving you wrong. For example, I heard of a interview where the candidate was asked, why are you looking to leave your current role? The candidate explained that it was now time for him and his career to go into industry. The interviewer then asked if he was interviewing for any other roles in practice… unfortunately the candidate was. Guess what? He didn’t get the job as it was felt he just wanted any role.

How to answer the question “why are you looking to leave your current firm?”

As I have already mentioned, truthfully! Here are some scenarios and the politically correct answer:

You’ve fallen out with your boss or a partner in the firm.

This is NOT the time to mention you’ve fallen out with a key person in the firm. After all, you don’t want to be seen as a trouble maker or someone who struggles to build relationships within a firm. This is the time to talk about the culture of the firm wasn’t right for you. (And back this up with concrete examples which don’t make you seem like you are a moaner)

You’ve been told you wouldn’t get promoted now or in the near future

Whilst you may be feeling very hurt at the moment, now is not the time to be negative about your current firm. Now is the time to talk about your career has plateaued at your current firm and you are not getting the support you need to progress your career at your current firm. Be prepared to have truthful examples of how you are personally developing yourself with or without your firm’s help.

You’ve been told your performance is below standard and you are about to be performance managed out

See previous answer!

You’ve been knocked back for partnership

This is a tricky one. You need to be honest that your business case for partnership was not accepted. I also think in this scenario that you can talk about given where your firm is currently at, you are unlikely to make partner in the near future. Hence talking with other firms.