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Why Did You Leave (Or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

Either you were fired, are about to be a number in a lay off, or you’ve chosen to leave the job. The answer to being laid off is a pretty easy one.

“It was a numbers game, the company had to downsize and now I have an opportunity to get a fresh start, using my experience to help a new company.”

But if you’ve been fired that can be a little bit of a touchy subject. Now is not the time to get your old boss by saying bad things about him or her. “My old boss didn’t understand what I did at the company, he was always harassing me.” Answers like that may feel nice, but they reflect poorly on the interviewee rather than on the old boss. Strong answers about getting fired include some basic elements:

  • Positive spin on why you were fired
  • How the firing actually helps you
  • How your skills help the new company

Interviewers know that some people aren’t right for some jobs, or that circumstances change resulting in a firing. They want to hear an answer that reflects professionalism and a positive attitude.

Mutual agreement:
“Things weren’t working out so my boss and I agreed it was time for me to move on to a role that would result in a positive outcome for both of us. Here I am.”

“It turned out my strengths and competencies didn’t fit what my previous employer wanted. But it looks like they’re more tuned to your needs. Are skills in marketing (or a skill fitting the job description) valued here?”

“Although my last job didn’t work out, I’ve since taken classes and did well there. I probably didn’t fully understand my previous boss’ expectations or why he let me go before I had a chance to prove myself there.”

For people who choose to leave the job, a brief and honest explanation is best. An interviewer will be worried that you’ll leave this job too. Mention why the new job is one you intend to keep.

More challenges:
“I was bored at the last job, so needed to move on to a more challenging opportunity. I didn’t want to negatively impact the last company with my unhappiness.”

“Your company provides more opportunity for growth than my last employer.”

“I was spending too much time commuting. This office is closer to my home, so I can spend more time with my family and doing the job than driving back and forth.”

Too good to pass:
“I wasn’t considering a move but then a friend told me about this job. After doing some research I was intrigued by the company and the opportunities provided here.”

Be positive, do some research, and this question is a snap.

Here’s an actual reason given by one interviewee. “I’m looking for something a little less dangerous.” He was an animal handler at a wild life reserve who had lost his hand in an attack be an alligator.

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