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How do you answer the question “Why did you leave your last job?”

Rédigé par Agence Carrières

Have you ever been faced with this question in an interview? It can be a tricky one to answer if you left your previous job on bad terms or if you simply don’t want to reveal all the details. Whatever your reasons for leaving, there is always a way to tell your story in a positive way and in a way that the interviewer understands your reasons.

The most important thing is to have an answer ready to give. Recruiters never ask random questions. The way you answer says a lot about you, and this information is crucial to them, such as:  

Whether you left your job voluntarily or were fired.

Whether you are on good terms with the company you left or not.

Whether the reason for your departure is valid and reasonable.

Whether you are a positive or negative person.

Who knew that simple questions could tell so much. This is exactly why you want to be prepared.

In the event that your departure was out of your control, for example due to bankruptcy, restructuring or relocation. 

Simply explain the situation to the recruiter, then move on to the next question. There is no need to mix emotions with the answer. Whether you agree or disagree with the situation, stick to the facts. That is the best answer you can give.

In the event of resignation or dismissal, we advise you to weigh your words. Avoid complaining, talking behind your former colleagues’ backs or pointing fingers. And above all, never, ever criticize your former employer. This will give the other person a bad impression of you. They might even think you’ll talk about them that way again. So stay positive. There’s no need to lie; take stock of your former job and note what you enjoyed the most, what you learned the most and what you are most grateful for. Also, when it comes time to talk about your resignation or termination, there is no need to go into all the details. Keep your answer concise but clear. For example, if your former boss controlled you and monitored your every move, you can tell the recruiter that the reason you are leaving is because you are ready to take on a role that offers you more autonomy and responsibility. The most important thing is not what you say, but how you say it.

One of the best ways to talk about “tricky” situations is to use the sandwich method. This is simply stating a negative point and surrounding it with positive points. Below we show you how to use it with concrete examples to answer the question “Why did you leave your last job?”.

Example of a resignation answer

In my last year as an assistant, I learned a lot. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I worked for famous artists, in big fashion shows. However, after a few months, because my position was new and my tasks were not yet established. The dynamics of my work changed completely. Instead of being in the field, I had to take on strictly administrative tasks. Despite my dedication to the job, I came to the conclusion that I was not cut out for it. I preferred to leave my place to someone who could grow. Out of respect for my former employer and myself, I decided to use my strengths in a job that suits me and allows me to excel. That’s why I’m here today.

Sample response dismissal

I enjoyed working at this marketing company immensely, it opened the doors to the web world for me. However, after a few months of trying to meet sales goals. My boss and I realized that this job was not the best for me. Through this job, I realized that it’s not selling websites that I enjoy, but rather designing them. In the end, this job was the best thing that could have happened to me.

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