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I am working as a leader of 3-people team in a software company of about 200. I am currently looking for a new job. The main reason is that the company is on the wrong track. We are not in financial trouble yet, but in my opinion the product is doomed. It's beyond my power to change this, but it's my responsibility to do my best in my area of the system. Seeing the future in dark colours really affects my job satisfaction.

Assuming my view on the company is correct, how do I answer the inevitable interview question "why are you leaving?". I know that I should prepare a lame phrase like "I'm looking for personal growth blah blah bla", but I'm not a good liar and I don't want to sound dishonest.

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    Just focus on why you want to leave - you don't feel like you can achieve your goals for the future at that company and then explain what those goals are (hopefully they are more aspirational than "having a job 6 months from now"). It doesn't matter exactly why the company isn't the right place for you to grow your career. – ColleenV parted ways Mar 5 '17 at 15:37
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    @gnat - this question is different and, while the answers may overlap, they are also different enough to not close as a duplicate – HorusKol Mar 5 '17 at 22:27
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Just don't mention the problems you currently have where you are. Your interview isn't about your current employer - it's about you.

Start thinking of other, more positive, reasons you might want to move on and use those - try to have more than one so you can adapt them to particular jobs you are applying to. These reasons can also inform your future employer what it is you are seeking from the new position you are applying to.

Some possible candidate reasons:

  • limited opportunity for advancement;
  • new challenges (new technology focus);
  • shorter commute;
  • better work/life balance;
  • looking to move to a new town;
  • different focus to work.

However, if you don't sound like you "believe" the answer you give, or you are trying to give an answer just because you think they want to hear a particular, the interviewer will pick up on it and while it might not factor greatly, it will likely niggle them enough to pick someone else. So, be sure you pick options that are truly of value to you.

I have been in a similar situation - I was unhappy locking horns with an employer trying to change the reactionary approach to development for clients. I never mentioned it and focussed on more positive reasons why I wanted to move to an in-house team:

  • less client driven work;
  • larger team (tended to work solo at the last place);
  • different projects;
  • better work/life balance;
  • a bit more money (chuckle).

Just don't make "more money" your only reason.

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I don't want to sound dishonest.

Don't worry, the interviewer isn't looking for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth here. All they really want to know is that you won't badmouth their company if they hire you and that you aren't the common denominator in all of your problems at your current company. Oh, and that you didn't get fired :)

Or to quote this entertaining article about whether or not there is any incentive to give interviewers honest answers to certain questions:

they wanted to know if the applicant had the ability to distinguish between the correct answer and the honest answer.

If you don't feel comfortable saying "I'm looking for personal growth blah blah bla" (which I think is a perfectly good answer even if it's not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), you could say "I have some concerns about the long term future of the company" or "I would like to work somewhere I can have more input into what exactly we build" (but only if you actually do want more input).

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"Why are you leaving your current employer" is a standard "trick question" and there are only TWO correct answers:

The first time the interviewer asks, say "I'm bored with my current job, it's not challenging enough"

If the interviewer persists, and rephrases the question and asks it again, say:

"I want more money" (obviously use some variation of that)

The message to the interviewer should be a polite version of "stop asking, it's none of your business, and I want to talk about the future not the past"

I have interviewed many candidates and I always use this question but I completely ignore the answer content, I'm only concerned with how long the candidate dwells on it.

A candidate that spends an excessive amount of time (goes on and on and on) explaining why they are leaving someplace is going to be crossed off my list. Such a person is going to bring baggage into the new job since they are clearly unable to let go of their old job, even though they are interviewing for a new one!! A hiring manager wants to hire someone who is eager to work there not someone who is regretting leaving their current position.

Proper responses to these and other "interview trick questions" are discussed in books like "Knock 'em Dead" and other interview coaching books. Do you research!

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    It should not be a trick question - it is a question (among others) asked to gauge what motivates a person. If I were interviewing a candidate and they only answered that they were "bored" and "wanted more money" they most likely would not be offered a job. – HorusKol Mar 5 '17 at 22:25
  • Do you regularly repeat questions that candidates give you an answer to? If you ask a question once and you don't like the answer (I'm bored) and ask it a second time, then it's no longer an interview - it's you trying to pry into something they have closed the door on responding to. If you get the right answers on everything else, it would be pretty foolish to disqualify someone just because they simply were not interested in telling you why they left somewhere. – Ted Mittelstaedt Jun 25 '17 at 11:24
  • no, I don't "regularly repeat" questions like this, that would be a waste of time. Someone who is "bored" and wants "more money" is someone who will become bored and want more money again - all things being equal, I'd take the other guy who ticks all the boxes and has better motivation. – HorusKol Jun 25 '17 at 21:37

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