You quit. You probably quit for a good reason. That reason may or may not have to do with a tremendously annoying coworker, a boss whose suit always smells like your grandfather’s feet, or work that was considerably more difficult than it was supposed to be.
It should come as no surprise that if you are asked why you left your last job, you cannot share these reasons in your job interview. Your interview must be focused only on the positive. You massively harm your chances of getting the job if you complain about your last workplace in any way.
However, you do need to give a reason for quitting, and lying is never acceptable. So your best bet is to choose a harmless reason that is true in essence, even if it was not on the forefront of your mind when you left your job.
Reasons for Leaving
- “I realized the job no longer fit my long term goals.”
This answer is always true. Always. Did you have a job where you hated your boss? Chances are you didn’t want to work for them forever, so yes, the job did not suit your long term goals. If you are asked to explain this answer, though, you should say something like “The structure of the department made it unlikely that I would be able to continue doing the work I love long term.”
- “I wanted to work for a company that is more stable.”
If the company has had layoffs, but you were not one of the people that ways laid off, you have ammo for leaving. You can claim that you left because you wanted to work for a company where layoffs were less common, so that you could focus on the work instead of the organizational situation.
- “I have doubts about the company’s viability in the long term.”
If you work for a start-up, or a company that has been experiencing significant losses, or a company with a lot of quality competition, this is also a good reason for leaving. Companies will respect your decision to work for a company that looks like it will succeed.
There are other good reasons to leave your last job as well, including:
- You moved.
- Your department got cut and you had to take on a new role.
- You were looking for additional challenges and it would be a long while before a growth position became available.
Yet those three may not be applicable to your situation. Usually at least one of the 3 answers provided in the list above is applicable to every job, so if you quit and you don’t have a good reason like “I changed state,” you can use one of those and give an adequate answer that won’t harm your chances of getting the job.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Don’t give the real reasons.
- Give reasons that don’t speak negatively about your previous company.