When approaching a new job, it is recommended to make a comprehensive list of reasons why you chose to leave and arrange them in order of priority. This will bring you clarity in terms of direction of your career, add logic and rationale behind your explanation of leaving and more so, avoid any surprise questions being thrown at you.
An important point to note is that the reason for leaving has to be consistent. During the exit interview as well as at the new company that you apply to, reason for leave cannot be different. In the case where your new employer may do a background check, there should be no discrepancy.
Here are 4 key-points to consider before you answer - Why did you leave your last job?
1. Get clarity about your reason for exit:
Make a list, as mentioned above, then go ahead and single out reasons that stand out as professional rather than personal.
2. Keep your answer short:
Though you may feel the need to explain yourself here, you don't really have to unless asked. As a general rule of thumb, answer this in one or two sentences. Post that, steer the conversation back to why you are the man for the job.
3. A positive outlook:
Even if your experience has been clouded with negativity, one needs to find a positive way to explain the switch. Employers generally are looking for problems solvers who can manage and go about handling sticky situations really well.
4. Stay honest and do not dive into details:
Keep your response short, focused and toggle the conversation towards why you are excited about the opportunities ahead of you.
Now let's come to the question of how you can tackle and come up with the right reasons for leaving a job:
1. Looking for career growth:
“I love my role and coworkers, but I’ve come to a point where there are no longer growth opportunities on my team. Can you tell me a bit about growth opportunities for this job, and what the company does to develop employee careers?”
This answer has all the ingredients to go down well with the recruiter. In fact, you can also go to the lengths of forming your answer such that it eventually ends with a question to the recruiter.
2. Career transition:
“I’m looking for a new opportunity that doesn’t exist at my current company where I can develop and expand my account management skills.”
Switching your career is not uncommon. It's a fairly good reason to leave your job. Although, if there is an existing department at your current workplace that is conducive to your personal growth, then one should consider switching within the organisation itself as that is a much smoother and seamless job change.
3. Let go or laid off
This is an unfortunate incident and can be extremely challenging during an interview. Following the below guidelines will help you negotiate this smartly:
- Remain truthful and do not lean into unnecessary details
- do not use the word 'fired'
- reason out what was your learnings from your experience
- Circle back the interviewer to why you are a good fit
Here's one way you can model your answer - If you were laid off:
“Unfortunately I was impacted by a company restructuring that resulted in a loss of 15% of our employees. In the meantime, I’ve been thoughtfully considering my next move, reconnecting with my network and researching opportunities. I’m excited about this position because it exemplifies the parts of my past work I enjoyed the most and will position me in the direction I’ve always wanted to pursue in my career.”
Bonus tip: In some scenarios your recruiter might try to grill you or coax you further into answering some follow-up questions. This might come as a shocker to you, so here are some probable questions the hiring manager might poke you into answering:
- Did you try to pursue this position at your current company?”
- “How did you try and resolve those issues before deciding to look for a new role?”
- “How do you plan to prevent miscommunication about expectations in your next role?
That’s it. Be confident, be calm and trust the preparation that you have invested towards the interview.