How to Answer: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

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How to Answer: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Have you ever been asked during a job interview, “Why did you leave your last job?” and not really known how to answer the question? It’s an uncomfortable question for any candidate to answer, but it can be especially difficult if you’re still fuming over being let go. If that sounds like you, take heart: You’re in good company. Plenty of people has found themselves on the other side of this dreaded interview question-not just because they were fired or laid off but also because they quit their jobs for reasons ranging from boredom to family obligations.

Knowing what type of response is best will make answering this tough question easier and more comfortable. This article will discuss some tips for responding effectively when faced with this tricky query in a job.

1. Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

There are a few reasons why interviewers might ask this question. One possibility is that they are trying to assess whether or not you are a good fit for the job. If you have a history of leaving jobs quickly, the interviewer may worry that you will do the same thing at their company. Another possibility is that the interviewer wants to get a sense of your reasons for leaving in order to determine if they were justified or not. In either case, it’s important to answer this question honestly and succinctly.

Following are some of the reasons why interviewers ask this question:

  • To make sure you are a good fit for the role
  • To see if your reason for leaving matches what they were looking for
  • To determine how well you handled conflict in the past
  • To find out how ambitious you are
  • To determine if you have a history of following through with commitments

Answering this question well requires knowing the type of response the interviewer is looking for. In most cases, it’s best, to be honest about your reasons for leaving your past jobs. Of course, it’s possible that you don’t want to discuss your departure from your previous job under any circumstances. Before giving an answer, you could bring up the fact that you aren’t comfortable discussing it by saying something like, “I’m not sure I feel comfortable talking about why I left my last role.” If they press for details after this, there’s nothing wrong with telling them that you would like to keep that information private and focus on what you can do for their company.

2. Variations on this Question Include: 

  • “What were your reasons for leaving your last position?”
  • “Why did you decide to leave your last job?”
  • “Why do you think you left your last job?”

3. How to Answer the Question: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

A good reason for leaving your last job is because you are moving to a different location. It’s hard to start over in a new place, so if you need the change, you should take it sooner or later. While there may be other reasons for leaving your last job, finding one that offers more opportunities for growth will allow you to do what is best for yourself and/or your family.

A great way to answer the question of “why did I leave my old job?” is by putting your skills into words that an employer would want. Be sure not to share negative aspects about previous employers or past events that took place at work either, as these are conversation enders! Your goal with this conversation should be focused on showing them why you would be a great asset to their company and not focused on what has happened in the past.

Be truthful and honest when asked why did you leave this last job; nothing is worse than getting caught in a lie! It will surely come back to haunt you, and your employer can see right through it. For example: maybe there wasn’t a lot of room for growth or your salary didn’t meet expectations, but you could have left because the commute was too far.

Be sure to have a few examples of why leaving your last job benefited you and allow them to see that it will benefit them as well. For example: maybe you were able to take on more responsibilities or gain new skills because of the last job. Now you want to take those and apply them to a full-time position. Just be sure that the examples you do give are relevant and don’t focus too much on personal situations that should remain private!

Don’t just say, “I needed more money,” or, “I wanted a change.” These are common answers, and employers already know that people leave jobs for these reasons. It’s best to have a reason that shows how it will benefit the employer as well.

An example of a good answer would be: “In my position at XYZ company, I was able to help grow our online presence by 25% in just one year through a series of social media campaigns and strategies. In this new role, I will be able to do the same thing for your company.”

While it’s important to have a quality answer as to why you left your last job, make sure that the reason is also relevant to the position you are interviewing for. If you’re looking for a change in your professional career path – don’t tell your interviewer that you left because you were unsatisfied. There is a time and place for everything, so before dipping into the personal details of your life, have a solid answer as to why you left your last job.

4. What to Look Out For

There are several red flags interviewers look out for when asking this question; some of them include:

  • If you’ve worked at the same place for a long time but have jumped around from job to job
  • If you have a history of leaving jobs quickly
  • If you are currently unemployed
  • If your reason for leaving your job didn’t really have anything to do with work
  • If you are currently unemployed

You should be prepared to avoid these pitfalls when answering this question. Be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Your answer should be brief and concise but not too vague
  • If you have a history of leaving jobs quickly, be sure to explain your reasons for doing so clearly and thoughtfully
  • You should avoid coming across as unfocused or uninterested in the job you are interviewing for
  • If you haven’t been able to hold down a job, be sure that the reasons you list will show why it is important for them to hire you. They may want to know how much money or time they will waste if they decide to move forward with your candidacy
  • Try not to focus too much on personal reasons or anything that could potentially damage your current or future opportunities
  • The fewer red flags they see when answering this question, the better chance you have of being hired. So take a deep breath and be honest. Don’t be afraid to show that you are a thoughtful applicant with a plan if elected for the position!

5. Examples of Some Good Answers to the Question, “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

  • In my position at Smith Company, I was able to increase revenue by 15% over a three-year period. This is a huge accomplishment, and it will be rewarding for me to take those skills and apply them to a new company that may need a different direction on how they use its resources.
  • I left my last job because I felt that a change in the company was necessary for me to continue growing as a professional. After working at Jones Company, I realized that there were certain aspects of the industry that really interested me, and this new position would allow me to explore those options even further.
  • In my last few positions, I was able to help grow revenues and cut costs. I feel that this is a skill I can bring to your company and really make an impact on how we manage our money, especially during tough economic times.”
  • After working at my last position for six years, the time had come for me to advance in my career and move away from that particular industry. I felt that leaving was the best option, as it allowed me to explore other resources and learn new skills that will hopefully benefit your company.”
  • I left my last position because the company was downsizing, and I feel that it would be better for both parties if we parted ways. This is not a reflection on how desirable your company is, but rather an indication of what is going on in our current economy.”

Sample answers that are not ideal:

  • It just wasn’t a good fit
  • Personal reasons:  couldn’t get along with my boss, wasn’t paid enough, didn’t like where I had to park every day
  • The company was downsizing, and we were all let go
  • I was fired for stealing (this should never be done)


When answering the question of why you left your last job, it’s essential to be honest and succinct. You don’t want to give a long-winded explanation that will make you look bad or like you have something to hide. Keep your answer short and focused on the reason you left, being sure to avoid any negative comments about your previous employer. I hope this article helped you!!

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Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.

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