How to Answer the Question “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

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Be prepared. If you left your last job, chances are an interviewer is going to ask, “Why?”

Here are seven tips for approaching this dreaded question.

  1. Tell the Truth – Between background and reference checks, your interviewer is likely to uncover the whole story. It’s better if the answer comes from you.
  2. Don’t Avoid the Question – A vague response such as, “My last job didn’t work out,” only leads to another inquiry, “Why didn’t your last job work out?” Provide a clear and straightforward reason, so you can move forward with the interview.
  3. Calm the Interviewer’s Fears – Ultimately, your potential employer is worried you could be a risky hire. Reassure them you have overcome obstacles, learned from mistakes and put the past behind you.
  4. Stay Positive – Losing a job or choosing to leave a position can be very emotional. You may feel angry, frustrated or bitter. However, no matter how bad the situation was, criticizing a past employer or complaining about previous events only makes YOU look bad. Instead of detailing what went wrong, focus on what you gained and what you hope to achieve in the future.
  5. Keep It Short – Explaining why you left a job can be a minefield. The more you talk, the greater your chances of getting into trouble. Be brief and to the point.
  6. Practice – Even under the best of circumstances, this can be a difficult topic. You don’t want to hesitate or ramble. Plan what you are going to say and rehearse your response, so you can give the best possible answer.
  7. Be Confident – You may have struggled through challenges and faced tough decisions. And, although you probably wandered off your ideal career path, you also picked up skills and insights to become a better employee. Own what happened and sell the benefits of your experiences.

Sample Responses

If You Were Fired

“I was let go from my last position. This was unusual because I performed well in my previous job. Upon reflection, I realize I should have approached some things differently. This was a tough, but worthwhile, learning experience, and I am ready to prove myself to my next employer.”

If You Quit or Left Voluntarily

“The job was different than I expected, and my boss and I decided I should explore other options. My undergraduate degree was in public relations, so I am excited to learn more about the community outreach aspects of this position.”

If You Left for Personal Reasons

“I took a year off because of an unexpected health issue from which I have fully recovered. During my downtime, I completed a course in human resource management. I am eager to apply my new skills and return to the workforce.”

Do You Need Help Finding a Job?

Being unemployed or having a resume gap can make it more difficult for you to find work. At Aventure Staffing, we offer free career advice, as well as temporary and trial programs so you can get your foot back in the door. Discover your next opportunity today!

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