Hi Ronnie Ann! My friend needs your advice. I hope you can help. Recently she quit her job. But she doesn’t know how to handle some of her interview questions. Especially difficult for her is answering the “Why you left your job?” question.
She happened to leave the job as she was not given a promotion she believed she deserved. She did not give her employer the same reason for quitting the job. Now when she is asked the reason for quitting her job in interviews, she is not sure whether to tell the truth or give some other excuse.
She asked for my advice, and I thought you would be the best person to answer this. It would be great if you could help out.
My response to Jay about “why you left your job”
Nice of you to want to help your friend. Answering the why you left your last job question can be tricky for anyone.
First in general … when talking about the reason you left your last position, stay positive about the job and the people. You don’t have to give them a glowing rave, but NEVER complain about how awful they were. Or how badly they treated you. Or how you didn’t get what you deserved. (Although it is ok to talk about wanting more opportunity, as this wonderful new job would provide.)
Even if it might feel good to get out all the complaints (valid as they may be), it’s all sour grapes to a potential new employer. And that would only brand her as high maintenance. Always keep in mind they are looking for a person who would be pleasant to work with. One who would never dish dirt about them!
A way to answer “why you left your job” question
Your friend should try to lead and end with positive strength. In the middle, it’s usually good to talk about something like looking for new opportunity and challenges, maybe with room for growth. And if she feels more comfortable with a shorter answer, then she can just talk about what she’s looking for instead, which will cover most of it.
In your friend’s case, since there will be reference checks, it’s also probably a good idea to make sure what she tells a potential new employer at least gels with what she told her last employer. Since I don’t know what that was, I can’t give you an precise example.
Hopefully she told them something that won’t trip her up, such as she wants to stop working altogether or leave the industry she’s still interviewing in. But, if she’s clever, she can probably get around that somehow. Or, she can simply say she changed her mind. And add reasons why this job is so much more in line with where she wants to go with her career now.
NOTE OF CAUTION:
Although I said be clever, I want to emphasize I don’t mean slick. What she says has to ring true to both herself and the interviewer, or she’ll come across as two-dimensional. Or phony. And maybe get tripped up down the road when the truth comes out.
Luckily, looking for new challenges and job growth are both excellent reasons for anyone to seek a new job or career. And no matter why you left your job, it’s always ok to re-evaluate who you are now and look for a great new job to match!
I wish your friend much luck. Please let us know how it goes.
~ Ronnie Ann
[Post updated 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To The Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker.
More posts to help
And if you do need to quit your job