How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

Finding the Right Answer to “Why did you leave your job?”

Job interviews can be very nerve-wracking and stressful times. The interviewers don’t make it any easier when they ask questions that don’t seem like they have the right answer. These questions are so deep, if you don’t consider them ahead of time, you will be lost in thought right in front of them. A question like “Why did you leave your previous place of employment?” This is not a time to plead the fifth and panic. Let’s go through the ways to answer this professionally and ace that interview.

#1 Be honest about your thoughts

The reason why you are looking for a new job is that you need something better in your life. This is too broad to be an answer, so here are some other points to add: Were there any values of yours that weren’t met at your old job? Were your career goals expanding greater or faster than they could pace with? Which needs were not being met that a workplace environment should provide? What were the pros and cons of your previous position? Are your coworkers and managers creating a healthy environment for you? Did you feel like you were in the right industry? Is there something in their mission that doesn’t sit right with you? All these feelings and ideas could be a probable cause of leaving your previous company. List them out and practice saying them calmly and confidently.

#2 No one likes Negativity

You might have left the worst work environment possible, but you still need to present yourself as the one in charge of your life. Hiring managers want to hear positive responses from a problem solver, not complaining from employees with high standards. State some of the positive things that you may have learned in that role or good interactions that you fostered with those around you. Show them that you are open to any environment and are kind-hearted to those around you. Don’t say things like “My manager was a pain and I couldn’t get any work done there.” Instead, frame it like “In my previous role, I was able to learn many skills, however, I’m looking for a position that will provide more practical skills and new experiences to expand my area of expertise.”

#3 Short and Concise

Answers need to be short and summarised as possible. Think from the viewpoint that your answer can be cross-referenced with your previous boss. Don’t provide too many horrifying details and focus the attention on the opportunities that you plan to have in the future. Try limiting the answer to one to two sentences. Once you feel like you’ve fully answered their question, then guide them to the next one.

#4 Guide the Conversation Along

Once you’ve answered, let’s help the interviewer to think about the next topic or question. After making known what your previous job was lacking, point to where the job you are applying for fits your needs. If it doesn’t, then this will only make things more awkward. Some managers will even point it out if they too don’t meet that need, so find a need that they advertise on their website before the interview.

Here are some sample answers that could work:
“I have been with the company for many years but my growth should be added with new environments. Your company is live and active, so I feel like I will be given the new experiences that I need.”
“Another company offered me a promotion, however, I see that your company supersedes their opportunities.” Be ready to explain what benefits they have that caught your eye.
“It was a good company, but I left for the chance to continue to advance my career. This company looks like a place that encourages advancement. Am I right?”
“Your company has a significant pay increase and a business model (or products) that match more with my values.”
“I left for an opportunity at my dream job and a chance to do something that I’m very passionate about. This company will not only be a good experience for me but also a joy to support every day.”

Take this information and practise. Understanding how your interviewer might understand your answer is half the battle. Know what you’re looking for in the new company and have your own questions prepared. Show them that you aren’t just job-hopping and will move on after getting bored. You can do it. They’re interviewing you because you already look good on paper. Good luck with your interview.

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