Why did you leave your previous job?

“Why did you leave your previous job?” – how not to answer

Why did you leave your previous job? This question is one of the most disliked among job seekers and one of the most loved among recruiters.

In your answer, not only the essence (the reason for dismissal) is important, but also how you present this essence. The answer shows your motivation, the ability to get out of a difficult situation with dignity and demonstrates whether you possess the norms of business etiquette. It is also a test of the ability to be loyal to the employer.

At the interview, they may ask about the reasons for dismissal not only from your last job, but also from all the previous ones indicated in the resume. And if you are working now, then be prepared not only for the question “What attracted you to our vacancy?”, But also for the question “Why are you in search – what does not suit you in your current position?”.

Anything can be hidden behind the wording “of their own free will” – from conflicts with colleagues to parting “in an amicable way” with an ineffective or toxic employee. Recruiters, of course, do not expect applicants to be sincere in such cases. Rather, they hope to figure out the “dangerous candidate” by the reaction to the question. Plus, they will try to find out about you from other sources.

If “I was left in an amicable way” is not your story, it is still important to think over the options for answering the question about the reasons for the dismissal. Some answers that seem quite natural to you from the point of view of an offended ex-employee, in the eyes of a potential employer, do not characterize you well. And it is definitely worth thinking about the correct wording: telling a friend about the reasons for leaving is not at all the same as telling a potential new employer.

How not to answer the question “Why did you decide to change jobs?”

If you are a diplomat by nature, then even without our advice, do not allow such formulations. But, if you are used to chopping off the shoulder, show restraint and be careful in expressions. Any harsh language addressed to the former employer will show that you should not expect loyalty from you, which means that one day you can say the same about the new employer. All companies care about what the “former” say about them, because it can scare off new candidates.

“It is impossible to work in this shithole! Some gossips and lazy people! “

Even if you were really unlucky with your coworkers and the culture of the company left a lot to be desired, you shouldn’t be direct about it. First, the potential employer does not know how objective your assessment is. What if your former company is famous for its soulful atmosphere? Then it is you who will seem quarrelsome and conflicted. It does not happen that everyone around is bad and only you – in a white coat. A person who could not work with any of his colleagues will not be easy in any team. Secondly, listening to your answer, the recruiter will think that one day you will begin to tell something similar about the place where you are working now.

As you can. “Unfortunately, there was an unhealthy atmosphere in the team, and this seriously complicated the work.” But it’s worth saying, only if it’s not your fantasies, employees did run away from the company every now and then (the recruiter can find out through his channels), you personally are not involved in the formation of such an atmosphere, but became its hostage (after all, your ex -colleagues). For example, this happens because of the ongoing conflict between the two “clans”, from the solution of which the management and HR-service were removed.

In naming this reason, it is important to choose tactful expressions, avoid emotional coloring and details, all the more so not to get personal. If your interlocutor is persistently interested in details, say something like, “Sorry, I think it is unethical to wash dirty linen in public.” So you will not lie about the real reason and show that you do not intend to harm the former employer, no matter what.

Ideally, one of the ex-colleagues is ready to give you a good recommendation and confidentially confirm that the situation there was really difficult.

“They paid little money there. Come on, hunchback for such a penny! “

Of course, work should be paid with dignity. But what to hide – all employers dream of employees with “burning eyes” who work not only for money, but also from the heart. Even if we are not talking about creative work, but about trade in air conditioners, for example. They try to avoid candidates who are ready to “ditch” for the sake of an increase of 5-10% of their previous salary: usually such people are always on the lookout, which means they will run away from a new place as soon as a slightly more favorable offer looms on the horizon …

As you can. If the salary was not just lower than you would like, but below the market level for your specialty, position and region and your employer could not find a resource to increase it, then moving to where the salary is in the market is a normal story.

If the number of tasks assigned to you was constantly growing, you coped with them perfectly, and about the increase in salary, you were only fed with promises, but never fulfilled them, this is also an understandable and good reason.

“We had to recycle regularly! I’m not made of iron! “

Of course, you do not have to work without additional payments every day until night, devote weekends to work and give up a full vacation. But constant overwork is a rather slippery reason for dismissal. How can the interviewer understand: you have really been assigned too many responsibilities, or you simply could not cope with the quite usual volume, because you do not know how to organize yourself? There is also a category of chronic workaholics, and they are not profitable for employers, contrary to stereotypes.

Finally, what does “overworking regularly” mean to you – staying up late every day? Or linger once or twice a week for a couple of hours, if the need arises? Or go through rush jobs every few months (during the hot season), while the rest of the time you have a “sleepy kingdom”? The second and third options are a normal situation in many companies or the specifics of certain business sectors, and they will not understand you there if you call it processing. There are also such professional spheres where even the first option – alas! – in fact, the norm, so it is naive to look for other conditions without changing this professional area.

As you can. “My functionality was designed for at least two, my boss understood this, but the company, unfortunately, for so much time could not find a resource to expand the staff.”

Calling this reason, be ready to tell in detail what your functionality consisted of, how many tasks and how much you performed per month, per week, per day, how you tried to optimize this volume and how often you discussed the problem with management.

This is the only way your interlocutor will be able to understand that the reason for the overwork is not your personal inefficiency, but the fact that there really was too much work for one. An ideal option if you broke up with the ex-boss in an amicable way and he can recommend you, confirm your words about the volume of work and the company’s lack of the opportunity to hire another person.

Another respectable option: for a long time you put up with a huge amount of work, because it suited you, but now your circumstances have changed (for example, family), and at your previous job there is no way to reorganize to a normal regime. Just talking about new circumstances, make it clear that they do not force you to work half-heartedly – you are simply not ready to live at work.

“I’m not going to wait for years to get promoted!”

Healthy ambition is good. But only if they did not grow from scratch. A person who “is waiting for a promotion”, but cannot explain why he thinks he is ready for it and in what exactly he has outgrown his usual functionality, gives the impression of an infantile who owes something only because he has worked in the company for a certain amount of time … Moreover, such an impression is created if the person is clearly offended that instead of him someone else was promoted who came to the company much later.

As you can. “I outgrew my usual functionality, but there was no room for growth upward or for participation in related projects.” But you have to understand that this answer is only appropriate if you worked in that company for at least a couple of years and can really boast of the results.

Explain why you are ready for more difficult tasks and more responsibility. For example, you began to cope with familiar tasks twice as fast, figured out how to increase the efficiency of the entire department, and easily gave out KPIs higher than those of your colleagues.

And one more thing: if you think that you deserve a more complex functionality and a higher position, then it is strange to get a job and a position similar to those that you had in the previous place. This means that you should apply for a higher position or explain why it seems to you that the functionality here is richer than in the old place, and there are more opportunities for rapid growth.

“Oh, there was such a mess there!” (“Such a swamp!”)

Yes, there are such organizations from which you want to escape, as soon as you find yourself there. But if you worked there for a long time, then you will certainly be asked why you didn’t leave immediately, as soon as you realized that “everything is awful” there. If you cannot, they will suspect you of guile.

In addition, be prepared for the question of what specifically did not suit you in the workflow (for example, too long a procedure for agreeing on the smallest decisions) and what you personally tried to do in order to establish them. If you hesitate, the interviewer will conclude that you are a regular critic – the type of people who like to scold everything.

As you can. “I wanted a more creative and less formal approach to work, I love experiments, and my former colleagues did not share these aspirations, and I found a company of like-minded people.” This is a perfectly appropriate explanation if you are moving from a large company to a small startup, from a government agency to a business, and so on.

Answering this way, explain with specific examples how you were forced to solve certain problems in the old place and how you solve (or expect to solve) similar problems with a more creative approach.

“There were a lot of bureaucratic procedures in the organization, I had to spend too much working time to overcome them, instead of doing my direct functions. I would like to spend more time on the main process than on its formal support ”. It is also better to illustrate these words with specifics.

“The boss was a tyrant, he was treating everyone … How to work with this ?!”

About the former boss – either good or not. Even if he really is an extremely toxic person, the whole professional circle knows about it, and you are still shaken at the mere recollection of him. There is nothing to be done – no one has canceled professional ethics.

As you can. “I usually get along well with people, but here was an exceptional case – we didn’t work well with the former boss.”

It’s worth talking about this only if your dismissal was stormy and you understand that a recruiter can easily find out about it. When giving such a reason, follow three important rules:

  • limit yourself to the wording “he is a very difficult person” and avoid details (refer to ethics);
  • do not show negative emotions.

But it is wrong to blame the chef’s complex character if in a conflict with him you also showed yourself not in the best way and understand this. Chances are good that the recruiter will figure it out anyway. Say that that experience taught you a great lesson, adjusted your scale of values, and now you will not allow emotions to prevail. A good phrase: “Sometimes you probably need to go through such a test to understand the meaning of the word” professionalism “.”

Some more worthy reasons for dismissal

Change of team. It happens that a company changes its owners and (or) top managers and this is accompanied by a gradual replacement of the team – new leaders bring in their own people, but they do not accept the “veterans”. The style of management, internal processes, business strategy are radically changing, and in the new unusual conditions, those who have been working in the company for a long time become uncomfortable or not interested.

Everyone is familiar with this phenomenon, so it will be enough for you to briefly explain that there has been a change in top management and everything in the company has changed a lot. For the rest, the same advice will be useful as for the case when you left because of the “tyrant boss” or from the “mess” and “swamp”.

True, there is a nuance: with this reason for dismissal, it is especially important for you to prove your effectiveness – to tell about your work achievements. Otherwise, you may get the impression that the new leader got rid of you as an ineffective “legacy” of his predecessor.

The company did not keep its promises. Also, unfortunately, a story familiar to many. She explains well the reason for the short work in one place: for example, they promised one salary, but in fact it turned out to be a different one, you meant registration under an employment contract, and you were offered a contract and a black salary, or work responsibilities in reality were very different from that what we agreed on. But the rule “less emotion and more careful in wording” applies in this case as well.

For personal reasons. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons for dismissal, which is called both by a former employer and a potential new one, when they do not want to talk about their true motives. And recruiters are well aware of this. To dissuade the interviewer from believing that personal circumstances are just a cover for the real reason, explain them as much as possible without much details of the private life. For example, due to the move, it has become very uncomfortable for you to get to work.

We disagreed in the vision of further development. This is the reason that quit executives of all levels, from line managers to senior management, are often cited. Indeed, it happens: you see one strategy for the development of a company or department, business, and a higher-level leader – completely different. Your expert level does not allow you to become a conductor of other people’s ideas with which you disagree.

This is a normal and dignified position of a leader. But there are two nuances. First, it is important to show that you are not just “the smartest”, and your position is not from the series “I am an artist, I see it that way”. Explain that your opinion was based on strong arguments and that you tried to defend them in front of management, and did not just slam the door.

The second nuance: “we disagreed in the vision of the strategy” – often a beautiful wrapper behind which the dismissal of an ineffective leader is hidden. You need to prepare well for the conversation in order to convincingly present your successes in your old position.

An interesting offer was made to you. Simply, you were hunted, although you were not looking for a job at that time (the new employer found you himself). But here you have to explain why that offer attracted you so much. It’s better to talk about more interesting tasks than salaries. Remember that those who are tempted by small gains prefer to avoid.

You found out about a job in a dream company. Everything suited you at your previous job, and you weren’t looking for a new one, but accidentally found out about a vacancy in a company that you had long dreamed of getting into, because … Then think for yourself. This option is successful when it is sincere.

Successful employment!