February 5, 2022
Doing well in a job interview depends very much on how well prepared you are. We don’t just mean looking professional and having the right qualifications but having the right answers ready for the interviewer when they ask questions.
Very often, you may be asked, “Why did you leave your last job?” and you should have a well-rehearsed answer prepared, without sounding scripted. The only applicants that can skip this question are those applying for their first job, or maybe straight out of college or university. Knowing what to say may come easily, particularly if there was a perfectly straightforward reason, such as the ending of a fixed-term contract or even the company ceasing to trade.
However, what about if your reason for leaving your last job was slightly more complex than that? Your CV may show that you were only with the company for a short amount of time or you may have switched from one type of employment to something completely different. Don’t forget that your potential new employer may speak to your previous boss to get an idea of your performance and personality. For this reason, don’t make up an answer or completely change the reality of the situation. Keep the framework the same and present your answer in a way that the interviewer will be happy.
You should also be ready for this question to be asked in a slightly different way. All interviewers have their favourite method of eliciting information from a prospective candidate. Here are a few variations on the same theme:
“Why did you decide to move on from your current position?”
“What reasons persuaded you to change your job?”
“Why are you currently unemployed?”
“Why are you seeking a new role?”
“What caused you to make this career change?”
Each of these questions and many more like them can be answered in a plethora of ways, depending upon your current situation and past circumstances. The question will usually refer to your current or last job but do be aware that the interviewer could query any gaps in your employment or positions that you left after a short time.
When the interviewer poses this type of question, they are looking to draw particular information from you, such as:
Giving a positive response to these types of questions can be difficult, but not if you have fully prepared and thought through all of the varying scenarios.
If you are out of work, there is a straightforward answer but they will want to know a few things about your last position. If you are leaving your current post, the potential employer wants to know why. In the world of work, you always need to give the impression that you are moving on to improve your position. The interviewer wants to feel confident that they are picking the right person for the job and one that will fit in well. If you say that you want to leave because you feel that you cannot afford to miss the amazing opportunity that they are offering, you are going in the right direction! You may wish to elaborate further, saying that you were happy in your current role until you saw what their company was offering.
Never make it look like you are leaving due to difficulties or a negative situation. However, should you find yourself in this type of difficult situation, be honest, professional and succinct. There may be times when you cannot avoid talking about a negative reason for leaving your last job. If it was something related to the company and not you personally, it is okay to discuss it. For instance, your last employer may have ceased trading or you may be redundant due to lack of work. When this is the case, refer to the negative points briefly and focus on the positive traits of the new position. Never talk down about your last company or divulge confidential details.
So there you have it. You can now answer, “Why did you leave your last job?” quickly and professionally in a positive way. There is no reason why you can’t take part in a job interview and come out of it feeling good, no matter the reason why you left. A good trick is to imagine yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and give the sort of answer they would be looking for. In the past, you may have interviewed people so you will know precisely how to answer this frequently posed question.
Be prepared, take your time and give it your best shot. If you would like further information, don’t hesitate to search our job database or get in touch with the team at CMD Recruitment. If you would like to register on our site, you can do so here. We can then keep you updated as suitable new positions become available. No matter your current circumstances or the reason why you left your last job, we can help you get back on track.Back to Blog