Why did you leave your last job? This is a common interview question. It is also a commonly hated interview question. Literally no one likes being asked this question. But chances are very good that this question will be asked of you in an interview at some point in your career. So it's a good move to go ahead and have an answer prepared for this very common interview question. And that's exactly what we're going to do today in this article.
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In this interview question prep guide we'll go over:
Examples of good answers to this question along with templates to help craft your answer.
Tips for answering and what to avoid when answering this question.
Why employers ask this question which will help you craft a strategic and smart response.
We're making it easy for you to develop your answer to the interview question, "Why did you leave your last job?" Below you'll find common reasons for leaving a job. For each reason we provide an example and a template that you can customize to fit your specific situation. So simply find your reason or leaving. Then review the example for ideas on how to respond. And finally, use the template to create your own answer. All that's left is to practice this response for your next interview.
"I was really excited to take on more responsibility and lead a team. But due to the longevity of the supervisory team, the company didn't have a need to promote into these roles now or in the near future."
I was really excited to ______. But due to _____ the company was unable to / didn't have a need to/ ____.
"I really enjoyed my job as Event Coordinator with Lavish Events. But due fewer events being booked the company no longer needed as many Event Coordinators and I was unfortunately laid off."
"I really enjoyed my job as an accounts payable clerk with Duval Sweets Bakery. But the company went out of business and I was unfortunately laid off."
"I really enjoyed my job as (job title) with (company name). But due to (reasons company downsized) the company no longer needed as many (your job title) and I was unfortunately laid off. "
"I really enjoyed my job as (job title) with (company name). But the company went out of business and I was unfortunately laid off."
The best way to explain being fired is to be upfront. Sure, a termination may be a deal breaker for some employers, but lying about being fired is a much greater risk. If you were honest on your application, disclosed the termination and you were still selected for an interview the employer is at least open to hearing your explanation. The best approach is to be direct, honest and forward looking by explaining what you learned from the termination.
"I was terminated from that position. I was new to a sales role and had a difficult time meeting my sales targets. I worked with my manager and participated in various development activities. While my numbers did improve, the improvement was not quick enough to avoid termination. While I regret having been terminated I did learn the importance of finding employment that best uses my strengths and education, which I believe this opportunity does."
I was terminated from that position. I was (situation) and had a difficult time (challenge you experienced). I (describe actions you took to improve or resolve challenge). While my (any change or improvement in challenge due to your efforts) it was not fast/sufficient enough to avoid termination. While I regret having been terminated I did learn the importance of finding employment (thing you learned) which I believe this opportunity does.
"When first hired with Balloons Inc the schedule was ideal for me. However after deciding to return to college I needed part-time hours. I worked with the owner me temporarily but could make it work long term. I ultimately felt it was best to resign so the company could move someone into the role who could work the needed schedule. However, the schedule for this job is in ideal alignment with my course schedule so I foresee no challenges."
When first hired with (company name) the schedule was ideal for me. However after ( change that happened) I needed (what you needed in a work schedule). I ( what you tried to do resolve with the employer) but (why it wouldn't work). I ultimately felt it was best to resign so the company could move someone into the role who could work the needed schedule. However, the schedule for this job is in ideal alignment with my course schedule so I foresee no challenges.
The last two response examples do not have templates. Just file these away in your memory for perfect execution later.
"In this role I no longer felt challenged. I had learned all aspects of the job and exhausted available growth opportunities. It's important to me to keep growing, developing and challenging myself in my career. In order to do that, it was time to seek opportunities outside of that business. "
"It's really important for me to work in an environment that is positive and where there is a good culture. That wasn’t what I experienced with [company name] during my employment there. But in my research about [the company that you’re interviewing with] I’ve learned about the awesome culture and work environment that has been created and I’m really excited about joining a team like that."
Use the tips below to prepare your answer to the interview question, “Why did you leave your last job?”, like a pro.
Avoid speaking negatively about your previous employer. This question is not an open invitation to vent about how horrible management was or how the pay sucked. Save that for Reddit or text chat with your bestie.
Focus on the present and moving forward with a new opportunity. There is no need to dwell on the past. Anchor your answer in how this job is a better fit for you. You’ll show that you did your research on the company and thoughtfully considered your next employment move.
Be as brief as possible. Give just enough details so that the interviewer gets the idea of the situation that led you leaving but don't go into unnecessary details.
Share what you learned. No one stays at the same job their entire working life anymore. But every job, no matter how bad, is a learning experience. Highlight what you learned about yourself, job preferences or career aspirations and tie that discovery to why you'd be an ideal fit for this job.
Show that you're a problem solver. Employers want to hire people who work to solve problems and don't jump ship as soon as an obstacle comes up. Talk about the actions you took to find a solution in collaboration with your employer. Doing so will highlight your problem solving, reasoning and communication skills.
You may wonder why employers ask the interview question, “Why did you leave your last job”. Understanding why employers ask this question will help you prepare an effective response.
Employers ask this question for three main reasons. Let’s explore these reasons now.
First employers ask this interview question to learn more about the jobs you like and dislike. Keep in mind that employers more than anything want to hire employees who will remain with the company for a reasonable length of time. The most common reason that new hires leave a job in the first 90 days is because they don't like the job. Employers will look for clues to help them determine how well this job may fit your preferences.
Second, employers ask this question to uncover reasons that may prevent you from being a reliable employee. They are listening for issues such as transportation, schedule conflicts and other issues that may be a barrier to employment. If these issues appear to be unresolved, or constant it could signal a red flag for the employer.
Finally employers want to know why you left your job to discover if you have challenges with soft skills such as getting along with co-workers, working well with management and following work procedures. They want to get an idea of whether you have the temperament, maturity and attitude to perform well in their business. Signs that there may be struggles, will be of concern to employers.
"Why did you leave your last job?", is a common interview that you will be asked at some point in your work life. Being prepared with a strong answer, will not only set you apart from other candidates but boost your interview confidence.
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