It’s a common question that arises during a job interview. “Why did you leave your last job?” This is arguably one of the most delicate topics you’ll address and requires you to handle the situation tactfully. Here’s how to discuss both the positive and negative aspects of past employment and what you have learned from these experiences.
Why Interviewers Ask This Question
According to an article from Big Interview, interviewers typically want to know the following:
- If you left for a good reason
- Whether you left voluntarily or were terminated
- Whether or not you left on good terms
- What your work values are like
Past events are often indicators of future behavior, so this is simply a way to gauge what type of employee you are and offer insight into what they can expect from you. Your goal is to prove you are a good employee and someone they can trust.
Discussing the Positive Aspects
It’s usually best to start with the good things. For instance, you might explain you enjoyed the camaraderie you shared with your previous co-workers and your last job really helped you develop your professional skills. Be honest and let the interviewer know what you learned from the experience and how it will help you succeed if you’re hired.
Discussing the Negative Aspects
Touching on the not so nice aspects of your last job is a little trickier and requires a careful approach. Nearly all experts would agree you should refrain from saying any negative things about your boss, colleagues or the company in general. This is only going to make you look bad, and the interviewer may view you as someone who’s quick to badmouth others.
The key is to turn negatives into positives. For instance, you might say although you enjoyed many aspects of your prior job, you felt you hit a personal plateau and just weren’t being challenged. This is what motivated you to ultimately leave so you could pursue more challenging endeavors.
Don’t go into more detail than you have to. Simply answer the question the best you can without making any disparaging remarks.
In all honesty, the “why did you leave your last job” question is one of the toughest you’re likely to face. But by game planning ahead of time and preparing your response, you can provide a satisfactory answer that paints you in the best light possible.
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