Last week, I discussed how best to answer the question "Why do you want to work here?" I shared what interviewers hear when you provide typical responses and how to craft the perfect response that will demonstrate that you've done your research and the value you can bring to the company.

Another standard interview question that can tell your prospective employer a lot more about you than you realize is, "Why are you leaving your current job?"

Caution. How you answer this question reveals critical information, and your response will shape what is possible for you in the future.

Absolute no-nos:

  • I did not like my boss.
  • My co-workers were... (fill in the blank).
  • I was not challenged.
  • There was no investment in my development and training.
  • I did not see a path to rapid advancement.

First, almost everyone has worked for a less than stellar boss, and most people have had to work with difficult co-workers, but it's best to curb those reasons when you answer this question. This type of negative response provides nothing of value to the interviewer. Second, these answers, and answers like them, are all about you. Not what interviewers and hiring managers want to hear when they ask this question.

Close, but no cigar:

  • Growth was not a priority.
  • It was kind of a sleepy place.
  • It was not a fertile ground for my ideas.

Embedded in these responses, and responses like them, is that someone or something in the company was wrong. These types of answers illuminate a victim mentality. By victim mentality, I mean the people who tend to think of themselves as victims as a result of other people's actions. Every company has these types of employees. They are constantly looking to blame others instead of being accountable for their actions and choices they have made.

These responses make it clear to interviewers that you blame others for your dissatisfaction.

Employers want people who are accountable for their decisions. Highly accountable employees complete tasks they are assigned within the requested time frame, thereby minimizing burdens to the management team.

Music to our ears:

Interviewer: Why are you leaving your current job?

Interviewee: I do not see myself as leaving. I see myself moving forward. See, I love where I am. I am sad on one level to be moving on. I just have this thirst to be part of something urgent, important, and growing. I want to be part of something where the whole team is relentlessly trying to make the company better. I want to be part of a company that is making serious value propositions to the market and believes that its best days are ahead.

Interviewer: And your current employer is not satisfying these needs?

Interviewee: They are. It's just that I have done some research on your company, and I am moved and inspired by what you folks are up to including... (fill in the blank).

So what is the hack? When asked why you are leaving your current employer, resist saying, "Because of..." and instead say, "In order to..." Take on the "in order to" reflex. Give up "because of".