“Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?” Here’s How to Answer This Interview Question


Standard interview questions? You’ve prepared answers for the most common ones.

Behavioral interview questions? They don’t intimidate you.

Zinger questions? Bring ’em on.

You’ve done your homework and feel ready to answer any question that comes your way in a job interview.

Well…almost any question.

There’s one potential minefield you still haven’t quite figured out how to successfully navigate: that dreaded question about why you left your last job. But don’t worry; we have you covered.

Whether you’re currently unemployed or just considering quitting, here are our career experts’ tips for answering “Why did you leave your last job?” in an interview:

Have your answer prepared, so you handle it confidently.

As with any interview question, planning your response ensures you accurately (and concisely) make your point. Don’t entirely script your answer because you might sound stiff or over-rehearsed.

If you have an employment gap, plan to take the bull by the horns.

By broaching the subject of why you left (or were forced to leave) your job, you can control the recruiter’s first impression of you. You can find detailed advice for handling questions about an employment gap in this earlier post.

Be positive.

You have absolutely nothing to gain by disparaging your former boss or company; it only detracts from your interviewer’s impression of you. Even if you had the most insufferable manager on the planet, highlight the positive aspects of the opportunity. Focus on what you learned, how you grew, positions or work environments for which you might better be suited, and how your last job prepared you for your next role.

Look toward the future.

Explain to the interviewer what you want in your next position, not what you’re trying to escape. Customize phrases like these to subtly demonstrate why you’re a great fit for the available job:

  • “I’m very excited to begin…”
  • “In my next job I’d like to…”
  • “I achieved everything I set out to in my last job; now I’m looking for new challenges like…”

Tell the truth.

If you make it onto the employer’s short list, they’ll likely be speaking with your former manager when checking references. Make sure the reason you give for leaving doesn’t contradict what your last boss says.

Related posts:


“Why Should We Hire You?” Here’s the Answer They Are Looking For…

“Why Do You Want This Job?” How to Answer the Right Way


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