Answering “Why Did You Quit Your Last Job” in An Interview

If you are seeking a new job, or are appearing for an interview to begin a new one, be prepared to answer this inevitable question—Why did you quit your last job? Or why are you seeking this position?

The reason behind this question is that the interviewer wants to know if you are leaving the company or job voluntarily or have been laid off or fired. The interviewer wants to know if there were performance issues involved. Did you leave on good terms from your previous office? A reference from your last job or company goes a long way in reassuring the interviewer of your performance and skills.

Did you leave because of work issues or ethical issues?

why did you leave your last job

reason for leaving your last job

These and many such questions arise in the course of an interview and one needs to be prepared to answer them. Your response should be truthful, and you should give the correct reasons for your decision to seek newer pastures. Avoid any negativity or blame game.

There are many good reasons for leaving a job. But there is a general rule for what you can discuss and what you should avoid enumerating on in an interview.

Reasons for leaving your last company can be—

  • A long commute
  • Maybe inordinately long hours
  • Work pressure
  • A toxic work culture
  • Disagreement with the boss
  • Long overdue promotion
  • Work is not challenging enough or you see no career advancement
  • Last but not least, you are seeking a better paying position

The reason can be any of the above or a combination of some of the above. What matters is how you frame the answer and what you should not ever discuss.

It should not appear that you are leaving behind a bad situation. All hiring companies need a competent and expert person to fill their position. No one wants to hire a person because they (the hiring company) are the better of the two evils option. The trick is to make them believe that you are happy and contented but open to better considerations.

You have ventured further due to the unique opportunity presented by the interviewing company. It is because of the excellent reputation and the awesomeness of the company that you are opting to shift.

If possible, list out the strengths of the company or the good work in your field the company is doing. Talk of the new technology or tools or processes that the company has adopted and which you are eager to work in or gain experience in handling. If you have been laid off or pink-slipped, do not lie about it. The world is small, and people in the business are aware of the happenings in their industry.

You can be honest and say the downward economic trend led to your department closing due to cost-cutting. A fund crunch led to the company letting go of new hires or recent hires. Or maybe the company went through a takeover, and there were layoffs. Be upfront, honest, and give a good review of your experience in the organization. This creates a good impression about you that in spite of the loss of employment you have a positive takeaway of what all you learned there.

If you are leaving because of low pay, toxic work culture, or disagreements with the boss or even work pressure, then give a general reason rather than specifics.

Here are a few examples of ‘Why did you quit your last job?’ answers

quiting last job answers

BRING MORE INNOVATION

I worked with XYZ for three years, and I had the opportunity of working with some of the best managers who taught me a lot about organizational culture and branding. I was given ample opportunity to develop the positioning of products and present sales pitches to clients. I got wholesome opportunities to get an all-round view of positioning branding and marketing. I have the experience to handle the position and can bring innovative ideas to the table.

TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE

I have enjoyed my time at XYZ Financials, but I feel that it is time to make a change. The company is undergoing some massive upheavals, and the management is being overhauled. Due to these imminent changes, the work was almost at a standstill. For the past year, I have been considering a move for better opportunities, and this vacancy seems an ideal fit for my abilities as I have ample experience in project financials and analysis.

If you are in-between jobs, then present the gap as an opportunity to do something positive and how you have utilized the same to gain some new skills or upskills. If the reasons for unemployment are because of some issues like a layoff, ethical or work pressure, then just touch on it in passing. For example:

NEED FLEXTIME

In my previous position, I was handling a team of 8 people, and we were able to push through the project before time and present a viable, cost-effective solution that saved the company 14 percent in costs. Unfortunately, I was not able to continue in my position as the commute was long, and the management wanted me to be at the desk longer with no flexibility. The company gave me ample opportunities to learn new enterprise legacies and gain new skills, but sadly I was unable to continue. In the meantime, I have used this opportunity to gain an online diploma in ABC language to keep up with the latest in the field. My experience, skillset, and the job description match perfectly. Your company has a reputation for being ahead in this legacy space, and I am sure I will be able to do justice to it.

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Anna Verasai
Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Staff Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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