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Interview Questions: Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?

Advice
Jan 04, 2023
Interview Questions: Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?

Any interview comprises a more or less standard set of questions. The interviewee has to expect they will be asked to briefly discuss their last place of work. How a person describes prior work experience sheds some light on their personality and qualifications. We’ve listed some tips and tricks in this article to help you prepare better for the "why did you leave your previous job?" question.

When a person starts looking for a new job opportunity, there is a reason they’ve taken that step. But that raises the question, which reasons are okay to give during a job interview, and which ones are not? Is it always necessary to provide an interviewer with the real reason you are leaving? The sad truth is sometimes your motivations, while perfectly valid, might catch the hiring manager off guard and create a bad image of you in an interview situation.

The answer to questions like "why do you want to leave your current job and work with us?" or "why are you looking for a new job?" is both easy and complicated at the same time. Your main goal should be to avoid speaking badly about your current or previous company, employer, or manager since a person who does so tends to be seen as a potential future problem employee. In some cases, the interviewers will look into the other side of the story; they will likely get some details from your previous place of employment.

The Easiest Way to Answer This Question

The most straightforward reasons that motivate a person to start searching for a job are the desire for a career switch and having a temporary job (e.g., an internship or a contractor position). If this is your situation, here are some answer prompts:

  • “Because it's an internship/a contract position. I'm looking for a long-term opportunity.”
  • “The project ends in a few months, and I'm looking for a new one to join.”
  • “I've worked at the company for years and would like to experience a different working environment.”

The Reasons for More Complicated Situations

Feel like shedding more light on your situation to make the answer more personalized? Due to the recent economic issues, the company might also have seen some changes. Again, speak briefly and carefully without diving too deep into the details. Here’s a look at some of the better answers if this is where you find yourself right now:

  • “Our company lost many of our clients, and that's why they are laying off people now. I want to find a stable, long-term job opportunity.”
  • “Because of the crisis, our company is laying off a lot of people and closing the office, and I want to find a stable, long-term opportunity.”
  • “The company plans to move Development and QA to eastern Europe next year.” 

Please note that drawing attention to your professional dedication and willingness to stay and grow in the tech industry will work well. By answering the question this way, it helps persuade the potential employer that you are the right person to hire.

Things to Avoid

While answering, be tolerant, loyal, and positive about people you’ve worked with in the past. Here are a couple of interview taboos you should remember:

  • Never say anything negative about your current or former company or manager. 

Again, each party has its own vision of the situation. Don't rush to assign blame if you feel bad about some things. Keep in mind the hiring company may always contact someone at a previous employer for more details, and you never know which story the hiring manager will believe.

  • Don't say you want more money.

Money is a good personal motivation, but it’s definitely not the best one to share with a future employer. It positions you as a greedy person who will likely quit the project as soon as a more profitable offer comes up. Companies are interested in long-term collaboration, dedicated teams, and people who want to grow within the company.

Key Takeaways

Prefer facts to negative connotations. It's always a good idea to mention you are currently looking for new challenges and opportunities and exploring new technologies and tools. 

Be honest. If you were fired, try to speak positively about the company and the manager. Even in a worst-case scenario, there are always a few positive moments. Brainstorm the situation to create a winning answer that will show your best sides, such as skills, experience, and background knowledge.

Answer briefly. There is no need to explain everything in detail. For example, if you had to quit your previous place of work because of family issues, don't specify exactly what those issues were. Citing a "family issue" is more than enough here; the recruiter won't need any extended explanation on that point.

Practice. Rehearsing your answer out loud a couple of times is a good idea. Anytime you say something for the first time, you run the risk of sounding unconfident. Well-practiced answers sound good and reduce the chances of further questions prodding for details.

No matter why you are leaving your previous place of work, the way you talk about it is what really matters. Companies are looking for people who will match their teams and won't cause trouble in the future. Careerist programs include working with mentors who help graduates tailor their answers to prepare better for interview questions. Overall, what an interviewee needs to avoid negative connotations is to be honest and positive.