Why did you leave your previous job? – Interview Question with Answers

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So, imagine, you are sitting on the hot seat right in front of your interviewer. You are all prepared to boast about your strengths, hobbies, stress handling capabilities and to discuss in detail your plans and expectations from this new job of yours (of-course if you get through this round of selection). You have been scrolling through the websites, social media pages to know more and more about the company where you are applying to. And right when you were to utter the word of your knowledge and praise for this new company, the interviewer stopped you and started talking about your previous company and your role in that.

Among various questions about your previous job, the one that is sure to be asked from you is “Why did you leave your previous job?” WHY? Do you know the reason behind it? If you know, then are you sure about that reason? If yes, then how will you present it as your answer during the interview to convince the interviewers? There can be some odd circumstances under which you left your job and may not want to open about them during the interview, but what to say instead? How to prepare for all this? Read on.

When you answer this particular question, you need to provide an answer which is honest as well as reflects those circumstances under which you left or you were forced to leave your previous job. But, you need to avoid any kind of negativity in your answer. Negative reasons like your boss were difficult to handle or you disliked the work environment there, should not be mentioned during the interview. Keep it honest with positivity in it. And how can you do that? This will be answered further in the article. Keep reading.

What Interviewer is trying to judge?

Mr. Interviewer does not want to hear any word of dissatisfaction from you that you hold with your previous employer. The interviewer is not there to cover up the lacking those you felt during your previous job. Rather or she is asking you this question because your answer will reveal a lot about you, not your previous organization or your ex-employer or anything else. Your reasons for leaving your previous job are quite relevant to your potential employer because of the following things:

1. How relevant your reason is? — You should not be mentioning any irrelevant excuses for leaving your previous job during the interview. You have to give the relevant reason to your potential employer. You cannot go on saying that you left your ex-organization just on your whim or you felt your colleagues be irresponsible.

2. Did you voluntarily leave your previous organization? — Your interviewer or the new employer wants to know whether you left your last organization or where you fired. Is there some other reason that you are searching for the new job or is it because you were your poor performance and irresponsibility that you were asked to resign.

3. Did you leave on a good note? – Stating that you are still connected with your ex-employer or seniors of your previous organization then this will demonstrate that you were a good employee and have good relations with people. This also states that you ended up with your previous job on good terms.

4. What work values do you hold? — At last, the interviewer wants to know what values have you learned while being on your previous job. Did you attain something positive, something valuable from that job? Do you have anything good to say about that phase of your life or are you a complaining personality.


Pre-Requisites:

What is that you needed to leave your previous job? A reason. Right? And that reason can be that you wanted to make big career changes and so, you have to explain motivators and goals clearly to the interviewer. The variations for this question may include:

1. Why are you looking for a new job?- This variation of the question is asked by the candidates who are switching to a new job.

2. Why did you leave your most recent position? – To know the reason behind the candidates leaving for his previous job; was he/she left the job or was he/she fired from there? This can be asked from candidates who are not currently working anywhere but have worked in the past.

3. Why do you want to leave your current position? The interviewer asks such a question from the candidates who tend to hold a good position during his/her previous job.

The answer to all these variations must be well-thought. You can refer to the following tips for knowing the pre-requisites of answering to this tricky question-

1. Think of the relevant reason: Think about the relevancy of the reason that you are about to give in your interview. If you don’t find the reason to be relevant then drop it and again ponder over the more practical or professional reason to state.

2. Can link an example of incidence: In case you feel that your previous job didn’t give you enough opportunities to showcase your talent then you can talk about this reason along with an incidence when you felt so.

Tips on what to include and what to avoid

About what to INCLUDE:

You can have any reason for leaving your previous job like you may want more pay, you may not be liking your previous job or boss; in-fact you could have been fired from your previous work because of someone else’s mistake. But you need to be cautious about what you include here in your answer. You need to strategize your answer to avoid mentioning any statement that can reflect poorly on you. Here are a few tips for what your answer should include:

1. Be honest: Don’t be the ‘Whole-Truth Teller’ person at this point. But what you need to take care of is that you state the real reason for you for leaving your previous job. For example: Rather than saying that the company lacked bigger projects in hand, you can state that you were not comfortable with the lack of opportunities.

2. Keep it short and positive: This question, for the candidate, hint in the negative direction. The candidate thinks of mentioning all the negative points about his or her previous job. But this is what he or she is not supposed to do. Try explaining your departure from the previous organization in positive terms.

3. Explain your accomplishments: For keeping the answer positive, mention the accomplishments or the achievements those you had in your previous job. You can start the answer by mentioning your accomplishments there and later can jump to your reason by adding words like ‘but’ or ‘yet’.

4. Practice: Practice what you are planning to speak out in your interview beforehand. This will make your final shot to the answer more positive and clear. This practice will develop more confidence in you and this is helpful especially in case you have been laid off or fired from your previous-work. Practice will make the answer sound more natural to the listener.


Things to AVOID:

While there are certain dos, there are some of the don’ts as well. You need to take care of these when you will be forming your answer to this question. These don’ts are:

1. Don’t get emotional: You may mention your feeling after you left your job or the feelings those you had while leaving the job but don’t get too much into the emotional drama. It’s your interview after all. You can’t accuse your ex-employer of betraying you just because you trusted him. That’s not the desired behavior.

2. Avoid negativity: Speaking badly about your ex-boss, ex-organization or anybody related t your previous work-place while mentioning your reason for leaving the job can reflect poorly on you. You can choose to talk more broadly here. You can mention some corporate practices or corporate culture that you don’t like without hinting at any particular company.

3. Don’t get personal: Be sure that you do not get personal in while giving your response to the question. One reason is that you may come across any of the familiar faces at any point in time in the industry and second, this is not something that the interviewer will be impressed by. So, why waste words?

4. Unprofessional comments: Unprofessional comments about your previous job involved- ‘I was bored with my work’; ‘I was an underpaid employee there’; ‘I was sick of everyone in the office’. Don’t start your answer with that tone and don’t even mention such statements anywhere in your answer. This is not professional at all.


Preparing your answer:

For this question, the structure and the style of delivering the answer are equally important as the content is. For framing your answer keep the following things in mind:

1. Describe your accomplishments during the previous job: Start your answer by describing some of your achievements at your previous workplace. It can be finishing a big project and getting praised by seniors and colleagues.

2. Turn to the read-blocks those you faced there: Don’t make the interviewer feel like you got scared because of the troubles at the work-place. But, state the problems those you faced at your previous work-place and which you were ready to overcome provided there were a proper environment and stimulators to do so.

3. Link with your reason for applying for the job: It will work in your favor if you mention your reason for applying for this new job along with your reason for leaving the previous job. Try to set a connection between the two to make your answer more descriptive and reliable.

Sample Answers:

EXAMPLE: 1

My reason for leaving my previous company is linked with layoffs. I used to work for ‘The Arya Pvt. Ltd.’. I was working with that company for nearly a year. The higher-level authorities decided to merge with a larger and bigger company. After the merger, many of the employees, including me, were declared redundant. As we had more seniors counterparts already working in the parent company were the first ones to be asked to say goodbye to our office. Even though I worked for less than a year there but I learned some trick of videos for marketing purposes. The company trained me on how to use some video-editing software. And that’s why I have applied to ‘Video marketing’ job at your company.

EXAMPLE: 2

I started my career with a startup. I was associated with that idea as a website content developer there. Everything was going well in the beginning but as the market conditions got unfavorable the startup that I worked for couldn’t manage to achieve a higher level of growth as we expected. The owner hired a project manager later when the market was stable to an extent. The project manager was to diagnose the problem. The project manager declared that the problem was with the design of the startup’s website. Rather than altering the design, I was asked straight to start from scratch. The environment of a startup is very dynamic and fast-paced, it teaches you to be on your toes every time. I have been associated with other corporate firms as well. I’m sure; my previous design for the website would make me land in a better workspace in my next job.

EXAMPLE: 3

My reason for leaving my previous job was downsizing. I was marketing personnel in my previous company. Our company was doing well until the economic downturn began. The company was suffering financially and had to face a few lawsuits. It was on the verge of crashing due to the increasing fixed cost of salaries. So, it was needed to eliminate a few of the employees working there so that the whole company could be saved. I, along with colleagues, was asked to resign the next week. I was working there for the past two years and managed to learn a lot there. Now, I know a lot about marketing, sales, and customer care services. I tried my hands on various kinds of marketing strategies and was able to get a good experience overall.

EXAMPLE: 4

I left my current job for my passion. I feel passionate about cooking and I have decided that I will continue with my passion for the rest of my life. I was working as an accountant during my previous job. It earned me a good living but I didn’t feel myself to be completely engrossed in my work. I couldn’t find any motivation to continue the work anymore. Now, I want to cook and I’m sure about taking it as my career option. Instead of staying chained to a desk, I want to move forward with the fast-moving world. I have obtained proper certifications from a culinary school. Then I made a transition into the accounting sphere. My previous job has taught me to pay heed to the details which make work more valuable. This learning, I feel, would be helpful for me in cooking as well.

EXAMPLE: 5

As mentioned in my resume, I left my last job position just three months earlier. I have worked as a departmental head during my second-last job and I got the opportunity to be at a general manager position during my last-job. Now, I feel like taking my career to the next level. I want to work at a higher level than my previous job. That’s why I have applied for a higher level management post in your company. I feel that in my current company I have maxed out all the growth possibilities. With your company, I will find new career opportunities. Your training programs match with current requirements of my career.

EXAMPLE: 6

Honestly, I was satisfied with my work at my previous job. I was connected with ‘The Suns lt.’ for the past two years as an employee. That company has taught me a lot. From being a complete novice, my previous job made me a person who is more skilled in handling industry work now. I got to learn a lot from my training programs, from my seniors, bosses, and my colleagues. In-fact, one of the colleagues encouraged me to think of a better job-position now. He encouraged me to push my limits further and recommended this job to me. I checked out the position that your company is offering and intrigued by the role it is offering. Also, the job offer is an ideal match for the qualifications and skills that I hold.

EXAMPLE: 7

I have been at ‘ABZ Ltd.’ for two and a half years now. During my journey with this organization, I have learned a lot while I was working with some salespeople. The salespeople in the organization were talented and their knowledge-pool was amazing. Starting as a salesman in that organization I worked my way up to regional sales manager 12 months ago. I and my team were dedicated to our jobs and that’s why we managed to beat the sales projection of our region by at least 20% during the last financial year. While working there I started feeling like I need more challenging situations in my career. I saw a good opportunity of managing a bigger team and the challenge of marketing innovative products at the job position that your company is offering. And hence, I applied for the job.

EXAMPLE: 8

I admire my time that I have spent working with Fin. Financial Company. Having worked as a marketing department head there I feel proud of all the marketing campaigns that initially were challenging but proved to be a big success later. I take pride in saying that I conceived those ideas and managed too. However, things cannot go the same for long. I felt the time for change has come. The company is going through many of the management level changes and so, several projects are on hold. Meanwhile, I thought of working with another company that holds its name in the marketing world. The job that your company offers is filled with challenges and opportunities to unleash the hidden talent of the person who holds it. Being a person associated with the marketing area since the beginning I feel myself to be a great fit for the position.

EXAMPLE: 9

Our company was doing well in the market quarter to quarter till the recession in the market sent a shock wave to it and sales started dropping. The top-level management discussed the changes they need in the management style of lower levels. Under some of the management changes that were applied the department heads were replaced. And after some time, it was apparent that the new head of our department had some new kind of expectations for the role that didn’t match with the skills or strengths those I have. Ultimately, the head decided to replace me with someone who is more experienced in sales than me. This was sad but there was also some good in it. I realized ‘customer service’ to be my real talent. I realized that I would be a valuable asset to a company in some role related to customer services.

EXAMPLE: 10

I learned a lot while I was working with my previous company. I was playing the role of a consultant there. Because of my love for accounting since the beginning, I managed to learn about the technical aspects of accounting as well. I admire the whole experience that I had there. I miss my colleagues and bosses who were my mentors as well. I shared a good bond with all of them and they too were quite professional in their ways just the way I like. However, I felt stepping out of the role of consultant and work at some more concrete job-position. I discussed it with my seniors and bosses; but unfortunately, such an opportunity didn’t exist there and neither could be created. Also, I saw for the company a busy season was approaching. So, I decided to quit at this point so that by the later time my space could be filled. And I am here in the research of better opportunities those my previous organization was in lack of.

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