How to Answer the Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Job?

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Job Interview

So you’ve submitted your resume and received the call that you’ve been waiting for.  They want you to come in for an interview.  You want to be at the top of your game and be prepared.  There will be questions and you can be sure that one of them will be “why did you leave your previous job”? Potential employers ask this for many reasons. They want to know if you leave voluntarily; also, did you leave for a good reason and on good terms. This can tell them about your work value and ethics.  For some, the answer will be clear cut and it will be an easy answer. For example, if you were in an internship, temp job or the company went out of business. But for everyone else, here are some tips on how to answer this question.

  1. Career Growth

One of the top reasons for leaving a job is looking for career growth or advancement.  It’s understandable to want to keep growing at your job and look for new opportunities to do so. If you feel like you reached your limit and there is no room for advancement or growth, it could be time to look for your next stepping stone in your career.

  1. Career Change

There is also the possibility that you are looking for a career change and are looking to take a whole new direction. People are constantly evolving and changing, so your choice of career may do so as well. It may be a whole new field or area you are looking to get into.

  1. Personal Reasons

Sometimes people leave jobs for personal reasons.  You do not have to go into too much detail here, but it would be helpful to say that whatever situation made you leave your job has been resolved.  Things come up in life, but it’s important to note that you are ready to get back to working full-time.

  1. Glass Ceiling

Another reason you may have left your previous job could be that you are not feeling challenged or your job has become stagnant. If you feel like you have reached that glass ceiling, it makes sense that it would be time to move on.

  1. Changed Job Description

Job descriptions also change.  You may have been hired into one position and over time and your job duties change.  This can be due to company restructuring, position elimination or creation. So it would be natural to no longer feel like you are doing what you were originally hired for. 

  1. Lay off

Sometimes positions are eliminated or merged.  Tell you potential employer that you have been laid off or downsized and let them know that the reason for the layoff was not due to your performance. Keep your answer short and to the point.  You don’t have to give a long drawn out explanation.

  1. Personal Job Requirements

We mentioned personal reasons earlier. Another valid personal reason is that you may want to take better care of your family, which may be in the financial sense or simply being there more. Sometimes you simply may need better financial compensation and the job hasn’t given you many opportunities for growth and raises. Also, a job may require more hours than you are available to work. Make sure that the job you’re applying for doesn’t have the same requirement with hours before giving this reason.

  1. Previous Position Ended

Some people spend their time in a volunteer position or an internship. When these opportunities come to an end, it’s time to move on to the next step.  You may have realized while doing the volunteering or internship the direction you want to take next. Let your interviewer know that you have found what you love to do and want to make it into a career.

  1. Further Education

Another reason for leaving a job is because you chose to further your education.  You may have obtained a higher or different degree/certification.  Your new skills may not have been utilized in your previous position, so it’s time to find something where you can use your new skills and education.

  1. Commuting Issues

You may have left or been looking to leave a job because of the distance or commute involved.  Commuting long distances can be stressful and very time-consuming.  Tell your interviewer that you are looking for something closer to home.

  1. Unexpected Opportunity

And sometimes the reason for leaving a job can be the surprising new position that you’re interviewing for. You may not have been looking to leave your job when you stumbled onto or were told about this position.  This new opportunity may sound exciting and be a perfect fit for your experience and skills.

Conclusion

Be honest in your responses but avoid any answers that may reflect poorly on you.  Give clear answers, but there is no need to elaborate too much beyond the main reason.  Do not speak poorly about previous companies, managers or coworkers.  And most importantly, practice and prepare yourself with a mock interview and project confidence in your answers.

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