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Best Answers for “Why You Left Your Job”

In: How To

Why You Left Job

Passing job interviews is always a challenge. Some interview questions are simple, predictable and do not require much preparation. Some are tricky, they test creativity and stress resistance. Yet, recruiters always want to know what made you  leave the previous company.

The answer to this question speaks of the candidate’s professionalism and personality. That’s why it’s important to prepare it in advance. Today’s short guide from the best expert resume website will offer a few professional strategies on this issue.

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Why does the hiring manager ask this question?

Like any other interview question, this one is asked with an intention.

To reveal your attitude. The cause why you quit (or plan on doing so) can tell a lot about your personality and attitude. Did the job seem complicated, boring or was it all about office politics? There could be issues with job promotion or even stealing ideas.

Were you sacked? Yes, there could be a layoff. But why they chose you? This issue matters a lot. What if it was because of your poor performance, work ethics issues or client complaints?  

To see relationship building skills. An integral part of any profession is interactions with others – team members, clients, supervisors. Did you have a good note and saved good professional relationships with colleagues? Slapping the door  was not a good idea. These details reveal your personality too!

Salary is also a crucial factor. What is more important, money or satisfaction for today’s employees?

Now it’s time to prepare your replies. Coming unprepared, you may occasionally blurt out what shouldn’t be said or send the wrong message with your answer. Saying “I want this job because the salary is $10K higher than what I make now” isn’t the best idea. Here are the strategies you can use when constructing an effective answer:

Strategy #1. Lead with a short, true reason

This approach works best when your resignation wasn’t caused by sophisticated personal factors, such as toxic relationships with colleagues. The thing is you simply cannot grow professionally. Come up with this kind of answer if there was a series of layoffs in your company.

Giving this kind of answer, focus on pure facts. A couple of good examples:

I wasn’t planning to change my job anytime soon, but a former colleague told me that you’re hiring a Product Owner. So, I realized that I could apply my IT talents and contribute to the launch of an innovative product for small businesses.

The business was acquired by Enterprise N, and they brought in all finance management staff and laid off the entire team.

Short and genuine reasons work for several reasons. First, they leave no space for misinterpretations – you had left because of X reason. Secondly, they don’t reveal tense relationships and personal reasons, so only your professionalism is in focus. And finally, short answers save the interviewer’s time.

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Strategy #2. Show your ambitions and willingness to grow

Leaving for a bigger company with better career prospects, willingness to learn more skills and invent something new are all valid reasons for quitting. Actually, they are a perfect explanation. They do not demonstrate any weak parts of the candidate, such as mental stresses, boredom, or conflicts with colleagues. Instead, such reasons portray striving to progress.

I’ve built an impressive skill set as an Office Manager, including conflict resolution and leadership skills. But now I’d like to grow professionally. My company has no opportunities for it.

I worked hard to develop business analysis and strategic planning skills. I wanted to become a senior analyst. My previous employer had no opportunities for my desired career path.

I quit to get my Master’s in Hospitality Management. With the skills and practices I’ve learned in university, I’m ready for much more challenging opportunity.

A positive note is a must for answers. When using this strategy, show skills and competencies you’ve build with the previous employer. Show your aspirations and become a go-getter.

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Strategy #3. Address the layoff issue

Find strong arguments to prove that you are a professional and a good person, and there were other objective reasons for a layoff. A perfect answer should address all the concerns proactively. However, avoid hiding the layoff fact, since this information is easy to check.

The company has merged with the corporation Z. Although I had great performance reviews, they fired the most recently hired employees including me due to the account management team downsizing.

My boss expected different plans from me than the job description assumed. As a technical support employee, I succeeded on handling customer issues but the manager also asked me to be a sales person.

When addressing the layoff issue, highlight strong parts and successes. Show your further plans and ability to adapt to new situations.

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Tips for explaining

1) Be brutally honest

Firstly, this fact is easily checked. Secondly, it is a matter of ethics and your good reputation. Do not hide any information.

2) Don’t complain

Do not share your personal opinion concerning the boss. Was he/she a complete moron who couldn’t manage their employees’ workload? Did he/she hire lazy incompetent coworkers? Keep these interpretations to yourself. The future bosses needn’t know about the workplace issues as it will make them assume not the best things about you. If interpersonal issues took place, it’s better to say that the new business direction isn’t right for you.

3) Do not be restricted to money issues only

A paycheck matters beyond all doubts. Yet, it should not be the only reason for you. But avoid sounding like   all you need is money. Employees don’t find candidates who only think about money reliable. Name non-monetary reasons first, such as company culture, professional growth, etc.

4) Don’t give unprofessional reasons

Create a reason that will sound professional. For example, in case with long commute, mention healthy work-life balance.

5) Rehearse your answer

Perfection comes from practice. Think of an excellent answer based on the above principles, and practice it at home. Speak it aloud and watch your tone and body language. Sound and look confidently.

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