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

June 19, 2012


Career evolution is just one of those things that comes with the territory.  People leave for a myriad of reasons.  It could be because of family issues, a spouse gets a job out of state or you might just be looking for a more challenging career path.

Regardless of what your answer is, there are certain ways to answer this question so that you are putting your best foot forward.

Get on and Get off

What I mean by this is don’t dwell on the question longer than is necessary.  Don’t spend your time trying to craft a story as to why you left your previous job.  Instead, spend your time and energy explaining why you want this job and how your growth has set you up perfectly for this opportunity.  The longer you try to explain why you left, the more time a Hiring Manager has to ponder your responses.

At the end of the day, when a Hiring Manager asks why you left your previous job, it’s not for some devious purpose.  They just want to know.  They want to know if there are any red flags that may prohibit them from moving forward with you as a candidate.

Avoid Negativity

Everyone has aspects of their previous positions that they didn’t like.  Now isn’t the time to bring those up.  Your job during your interview is to remain as upbeat and positive as possible.  Leave all the negativity in the past.

If you weren’t challenged enough in your previous job, don’t mention this either.  You’ll give off the impression that you get bored easily, and once things stop becoming a challenge to you, you’ll leave them high and dry.

Speak Highly of Your Previous Employer

Typically, I would recommend not talking negatively about your previous employer, but we are past that stage.  We are at a point to where you have to stand out in order to get a job.  I guarantee you that you will standout for all of the right reasons if you speak highly of your previous employer.  You’re taking the high road, while your competition is using this precious opportunity to bash their former bosses.

Stay on point, stay on message and stay focused.  When you digress and start bad mouthing employers you can come across as angry, bitter and vindictive.  Keep in mind, this is their first opportunity for them to see you as a potential employee.  What they’re thinking is he/she can say this about them, what will he say about us once he moves.  Don’t let those thoughts creep into their heads.  Own the moment and take control of it!

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About Maro Onokpise

Maro Onokpise is the founder and Editor of Jobtrakr. He oversees all editorial content. Prior to turning his sights on the job industry, Maro was an Associate Manager for Banana Republic where he was responsible for Operations, HR and Recruiting. In 2010 Maro was featured on the cover of Career Magazine and was also named to Orlando Business Journal's 40 Under 40. Maro Onokpise is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

View all posts by Maro Onokpise


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