“Why Did You Leave Your Job?”

Business interview

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

MM @ Work Columnist

MM @ Work Columnist

By Shweta Jacob @shwetajacob & online at: www.shwetasays.com

We all know how hard it can be. We all know how difficult it can be to talk about.

How do you discuss drifting apart? Or getting dumped out of the blue?

Similarly, how do you explain the reasons for the end of your employment relationship?

This is the question I am asked most often by job seekers who come to me for advice. How to answer the dreaded question “why did you leave/are you leaving your job?”


This question often creates a significant amount of stress but if answered with honest facts, while limiting emotions, it can easily be addressed.  I once had someone tell me that she was let go from her position as a receptionist as the company moved to an automated switchboard. Unfortunately for her, I knew that her former company was currently advertising for a new receptionist and that she was not being honest. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job. Then there was the candidate who told me that she was let go due to a conspiracy amongst other staff to get her out. She didn’t get the job either. Business interview


On the flip side, I had a candidate tell me she was looking to switch jobs because she was working 12 hour days almost everyday and it was preventing her from taking courses to better herself. Her honesty was refreshing. She got the job! 



Below are some Do’s and Don’t to help you come up with your answers.



Don’t Say Do Say
My boss is an idiot I have learned all I can in my current role
I am over-worked I am looking for work life balance
I want more money I’m looking for an opportunity for career advancement
I don’t know. They just let me go. I don’t think they liked me. My position was terminated. It wasn’t the right long-term fit.
The job wasn’t what I expected and I am over-qualified I’m looking to be challenged


Just as you should never talk too much about your exes on a first date, so you shouldn’t talk too much about your employer in an interview.

So remember:


  • Never bad-mouth your employer, manager or co-workers. Why? Because you don’t want to come across as a negative or unprofessional.
  • Talk about what you are looking for in your next position and rather than what your current role is lacking.
  • Focus mostly on your skills, qualifications and career aspirations and less on how your current/former employee couldn’t meet these needs.
  • And in any interview situation, just remember that the interviewer has also probably been dumped once answered the “why did you leave your last position” in the past too.


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