Nail This Top Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
From my experience as a Hiring Manager and Recruiter, one of the most uncomfortable questions that candidates are often asked is: ‘why did you leave your last job?’
First things first, acknowledge that your interviewer isn’t trying to trip you up. In fact, they’re giving you an amazing chance to talk a bit about your personal goals.
What Not to DoThe majority of candidates seem to answer this question with a similar answer. Worse, what they choose to talk about is the bad experiences they’ve had with their former employers.
Why Is This Wrong?Talking negatively about your past work experience, even if it’s true, puts a negative spin on your entire interview. The bottom line is that an interviewer would much rather hear an impressive story about how you want to grow in your future than a disheartening one about your bad experiences.
The Top 5 Things You Can Talk AboutIn my experience interviewing hundreds I’ve candidates, I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to this question. To help you plan out your perfect answer, here are my top five suggestions for areas to focus on:
- You’re looking for a role with more growth opportunities. It’s a fact of life that some positions and companies don’t offer the same accelerated advancement as others do, and it’s perfectly fine for you to highlight your ambitions.
- Your career aspirations have changed. Taking this angle in your answer will allow you to inspire your interviewers with your vision for your future.
- Your values didn’t align with your former employer’s. For example, if you’re an environmentalist at an oil company, it makes sense that you might not feel fulfilled working there.
- You want to do more meaningful and challenging work. If this new role you’re applying for would offer you the opportunity to reach your full potential, I recommend taking this approach.
- You want to be in a company culture that inspires you. An organization’s culture is the central values and attitudes its employees reflect. For example, if you’re applying to a technology start-up, you may want to mention that the innovative and fast-paced culture is one you feel you would thrive in.