Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Photograph of a businessman holding his head in his hands

A common interview question many applicants are asked is why they left their previous job. This can be a tricky question as you want to avoid speaking negatively of your previous employers as much as possible. A negative attitude can reflect poorly on you more than you might think, particularly in an interview setting. Like many other typical interview questions, it’s a good idea to come prepared with a strong answer. Today’s article will discuss how to answer this tricky interview question in a variety of ways.

Crafting a Good, Honest Answer

Employers know there are a million different reasons why you might have left your old job. What they are really looking for is how you frame your reasons. They want to know whether you left for a good reason, whether you left voluntarily, and whether you left on good terms or not. Depending on your situation, you can frame your answer in a positive light to ensure it does not reflect poorly on you.

Some good answers as to why you left a previous job include the following:

  • My previous company had to make serious staffing cuts and unfortunately my job was one of those eliminated.
  • I am looking for a position with a stable company that provides room for employees to grow and advance internally.
  • I am interested in a new challenge and am excited by the opportunity to use my skills and experience in a different capacity than I have in the past.

The key takeaway about these answers is they bring the focus of the conversation back to your unique skills and qualifications. They show a potentially negative situation in a positive a light.

Speaking Well of Your Ex-Employer

Employers are going to evaluate your success in previous experiences as much by your relationships as by what you achieve on your own. Teamwork skills are a very real requirement in the vast majority of the positions you will likely apply for. Being able to show you can work well with and for others is a skill set in and of itself. A good relationship with a former boss goes beyond having a good reference. Interviewers are also listening closely to how you talk about your previous employer as it’s very telling in terms of how you fit in with the overall environment. Hiring managers want to know up front whether you are the sort of employee who responds well to feedback, constructive criticism, and management in general.  And, while the old adage goes “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” being able to speak well of a previous manager helps your interviewer see you are a team player worth having.

Want more great advice like this to help you prepare for your next big interview? Consider working directly with a career advisor from ACS Professional Staffing. For help finding your next big opportunity in the greater Portland or Vancouver area, reach out to the ACS team today!

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