“Why did you quit your last job?”
This is perhaps one of the scariest questions you may need to answer during your job interview.
Should you be honest, or should you lie about the ugly details? Whether you resigned due to personal reasons or you were terminated due to negative performance, the last thing you want to happen is having the HR department thinking you’re a whiny quitter, who wasn’t a team player and could be hard to manage.
Fortunately, with the right approach, you can present even the worst reasons to positive, professional answers that could land you a job. Here are 7 common reasons for quitting and the best ways to answer this dreaded interview question.
Reason #1: You needed a career change
Best answer: I’m looking out for opportunities that will allow me to advance my career and make full use of my acquired skills.
Did you quit to have a career change since you’ve reached the point where you’re totally unhappy of what you were doing anymore? If yes, you might want to explain that to your prospective employer without thinking you’re unstable and unreliable.
Reason #2: You were looking for a higher salary or a promotion
Best answer: I’ve reached the growth ceiling in my previous position and I’m up for my next challenge.
Perhaps you’ve been with your previous company for so long but you didn’t get a raise, a higher position, or any opportunity for climbing the ladder. The answer above puts a positive twist on your departure. It’s a better way to state your reasons without sounding too bitter or demanding for money and title.
Reason #3: You left a demanding job from feeling burned out
Best answer: I’m seeking an opportunity where I can show off the best of my skills and experience, while balancing time with my family.
Leaving a company with toxic work environment, where you were expected to work 70 hours a week without just compensation, is common. However, guard yourself from ranting to your potential employer how you were stressed out, overworked, and underpaid. Instead, shift the conversation to a more positive approach and talk about the type of work environment you thrive in.
Reason #4: You left due to health issues and/or family matters
Best answer: I put my career on hold due to my personal health issues (or whatever personal reason, like taking care of a family member) which is, I believe, a top priority. Rest assured that this specific issue is now resolved.
Spending ample time to recover from a medical condition or take care of sick family members are among the good reasons for putting your career on hold. Don’t go into specifics – just give them some brief information and assure them that the problem is now resolved to give the hiring manager a sigh of relief.
Reason #5: You didn’t like your previous company’s work ethics
Best answer: “After a huge dispute, I realized that my former company’s work principles aren’t in line with my mine and it’s not helping with my career.
Never say you had a fight with a coworker, or your employer had some shady financial practices. Never badmouth the people from your former company and don’t blame them for everything, no matter how they deserve it. Chances are, the HR solutions or interviewer may need to hear the other side of the story.
If you have legitimate disagreements with your former management, it’s okay to bring that up as long as you briefly present their line of reasoning and why you disagreed. Then, shift the focus onto the values you share with your new potential employer.
Reason #6: You’ve been laid off
Best answer: The company had to eliminate some positions, and unfortunately, I was among those recently hired in our department. Nevertheless, I am proud of the amount of work I put in for the company and my former manager is one of my greatest references.
It’s a good thing most hiring managers won’t criticize you for being downsized. Just make it clear to emphasize your accomplishments on the job. Skip any ugly details that would make you look unprofessional and incompetent.
Reason #7: You were fired
Best answer: “The company had expectations for the position that weren’t in line with my strengths. My time in that company taught me that …”
Whether it’s due to a shift to a new management and budget cuts or due to poor performance and work ethics, termination puts a huge dent in your career trajectory. However, you can turn things around with the right approach: right explanation with a dash of humility
Assure the interviewer that the reason for getting fired was an isolated incident and you wouldn’t be a risky hire. Cite some lessons learned and direct the attention to your strengths and acquired skills and experiences.
Author Bio: Mina Corpuz is a creative writer for HR Dept Australia, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful career management solutions for both employees and employers is her cup of tea.