Answer This: Why did you leave your last job?

August 23rd, 2012 | Interviewing, Job Search | No Comments »


If interview questions that ask, “Why did you leave?” or “Why are you leaving?” leave you stuttering for a good answer, here are a few tips.

You were fired

Let’s get honest. Was the workload too high? Was it just not the right work for your skill set? Once you figure out an honest answer that you feel comfortable explaining, craft a brief, concise answer. Avoid expressing any negative feelings about the situation. Instead, take responsibility; explain what you learned and how whatever the problem was, it won’t happen in the future.

You don’t get along with your coworkers/boss

Feel free to vent how much you hate your coworkers and boss to your friends and family, but an interview is not a place to get worked up. Put yourself in a positive mindset and explain simply that it wasn’t a great culture fit. Focus on the experience you gained instead, and how you’re ready to find a new opportunity and a great workplace to apply that experience.

You aren’t making enough money

Whether your living expenses have increased or you think you deserve greater compensation for you work, the last thing you want to do is come across money-motivated and greedy. Explain instead how, though the work was rewarding, you don’t believe your skills are being used to the best potential.

You left for personal/medical/family reasons

It’s completely up to you how much you divulge about your life circumstances, but you want to avoid giving the impression that you only want to work at a company because their benefits, schedule, location, etc will benefit your situation. Focus instead on how you’re excited about this new opportunity to re-apply yourself. Be careful of giving the impression that your life circumstances will continue to affect your work performance.

You were bored

It can be extremely unrewarding to work in a position where you don’t feel stimulated, and looking for a new challenge is a good move. However, you need to answer carefully or risk coming across as dispassionate or negative. Explain how you’re looking for an opportunity in which you can make a difference and reach your full potential.

Bottom Line

In any situation, employers aren’t looking for in-depth, intense answers. Keep it brief, avoid negativity, and be enthusiastic about the future. Also keep in mind that interviewers are looking to find out how you will help them in the company, not how they can help you in your career or life goals.

by Clare Saumell

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