I am working as a research fellow at a University in UK. Its a two year contract with no chance of extension or renewal. Although I have 1 year left, I have considered not staying for the second year, and I have started applying for jobs elsewhere. I have been called for an interview at another much higher ranking university.

They will most probably ask why I am leaving my current position. And I don't know how best to answer this, as I don't want to say too much at this stage.

The University I am currently employed at is not purely research targeted, so along with our research targets we are given modules to teach along with assignment/exam checking. This takes a lot of time from my research.

Also I am personally not satisfied with the quality of my work here as I have been told quantity over quality and I am producing subpar papers at least once a month and even after discussing with my PI to target better journals he still expects me to continue working and printing out papers, some of the papers that I have produced are so bad in such low ranking conferences/journals that I am ashamed to add them to my CV.

Also as mentioned above, this project has no chance of extension, but is this a valid reason? Would this not alarm my new employers that this guy might leave us as well as the project comes to an end?

The place I have applied for is known for its research excellence. And I really want to move there. So, based on the above reasons how should I answer this question.

Also I am not ashamed in admitting that I am very nervous as I am really hoping to get this job. I don't know what to expect at the interview and how to prepare for it. I have found out the name of the PI and have read his previous published work. Is there anything else I can do that would improve my chances of succeeding at the interview?

I have also read this answer, and was wondering if anything else can be added to this.

Thank you.

  • 9
    Of course the fact that you have a term limit is a valid reason to be looking for another job.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 20, 2018 at 15:16
  • 7
    As @Jon Custer said, isn't "Its a two year contract with no chance of extension or renewal" a reason? In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of a better reason even if you were allowed to lie. Jun 20, 2018 at 15:28
  • 1
    Based on your latest comment, and then my rereading what you wrote, I think you are saying you still have 1 more year left and you are applying for jobs that will take place during the year you have left. If so, you should rewrite "So as I am approaching the last year I have started applying" to be a bit more explicit, such as "Although I have 1 year left, I have considered not staying for the second year, and I have started applying for jobs elsewhere whose first year would take place during what would have been my second year where I am currently at", or something like this. Jun 20, 2018 at 18:44
  • 1
    I think the answer to the question is That Depends - it will depend on whether you can explain your unhappiness without it looking as though you're criticising your employer or supervisor (which is a bad look). You may be able to explain it simply as "I wasn't happy in the city", "my family couldn't move there", or similar. HOWEVER, as others have noted, if you're in a fixed term contract few will think ill of you if you jump ship to a better job, especially if that is a longer-term post; no other excuse needed.
    – Flyto
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:38
  • 1
    It reveals your hand to them and they might jump at a chance to hire you for less pay.
    – Marxos
    Jun 20, 2018 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


A traditional interview technique is to reframe such questions. Don't focus on the fact that your current job is bad - view it as an opportunity to discuss how the new job will be better and how you're a good fit for it.

Bad: "In my current job, I have to teach too much, and good research is not appreciated."

Good: "I'm looking for a job with more opportunities to pursue research, in areas where I can make the best contribution. I have successful experience in doing X, Y, and Z, and University A is known for its excellence in this area."

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