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Why did you leave your last job? Tips to address past employment

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One of the most painful interview questions for any jobseeker is when they’re asked to give details of why they left their previous jobs – or are thinking of quitting the present one. Sometimes the response is easy and evident— like relocation or in pursuit of senior roles, while other situations require more justification. It’s perfectly fine if the actual reason you are quitting is because of a crazy micro managing boss or nasty co-workers or maybe a toxic culture. But unfortunately you can’t always tell recruiters that! Instead, you have to pick a cover story, like “leaving for newer challenges, and make it sound like you are leaving for better opportunities.

The interview question’ why did you leave your last job’ tries to elicit information about what makes you decide to quit a job. It also gives recruiters an insight on how serious you are about your career path. So while replying you want to be honest yet tactful, steer clear of possible pitfalls and come up with an answer that resonates for both you and the recruiter. A lot of us quit our jobs because something was, quite simply, amiss! But whatever your reasons were, it is significant that you structure a positive reply without hurting yourself or raising further questions.

So here’s how to approach what innately is a tricky question:

Be honest yet discreet:

Answer frankly! One of the fastest ways to get blacklisted from a job and probably an employer is to lie about why you quit your last job. Lying can often backfire. It’s completely okay to admit that your last role didn’t excite you enough or that you had issues with your immediate manager. But what counts is how you frame your answer. Adding a dash of diplomacy to your honesty can really go a long way. You can give an honest reply without being brutally honest. If you were fired from your previous job then you should come clean as there is a huge possibility that your last employer will be called for reference. Avoid negative comments and utilize the opportunity to emphasize that you have learned from the incident. Keep your response as short as possible as employers don’t want to hear the nitty gritty. Another possible reason why you left your job is that you were made redundant. If such is the case, say so. There’s no embarrassment in that! It was the role that was no longer required – not you. Redundancies are common these days and should not be a reflection of your abilities. But again, keep your response short and sweet and skip the details.

Never bad-mouth your previous employer:

Loathing your boss, wanting to strangle your colleagues or a bizarrely dreary job are extremely genuine reasons for deciding to quit. But offload your professional angst on your friends or family and ensure that the heated vibes get nowhere near the interview seat. Focus on other reasons about why you are thinking of a job change and tune yourself into a positive frame of mind. If you bad-mouth your previous job or employer, your prospective employer might think that you would do the same when and if things go south. You ought to show your prospective employers that you have the ability to tolerate things without whining– no one wants to hire someone who is immature and frequently nitpicks.

Focus more on why you’re interested in the new job:

Whatever your reasons were or are for quitting, its better not dwell on it much. Focus more on why you are interested in the new job and what tempted you to apply for it. You want to focus more on the future rather than on your past. Even anecdotes from the past should indicate skills you want to use now.

Some possible answers:

You want to look for reasons that sound absolutely sincere in the interview. And you also want to ensure that the new position actually provides you the opportunities that you are looking for and that your old job actually doesn’t offer! So here are some possible reasons you might want to cite while answering. Although the perfect answer should be your own unique version based on reality:
• Your job doesn’t excite you enough and doesn’t offer room for further development.
• You want to build on your skills in areas that don’t exist in your present job
• You’re looking for senior roles and more responsibilities.
• You are looking for better remuneration.
• The new job and company is where you always wanted to work and make your next career move.
• You have researched the new job and company and feel that it’s a much better aligned with your present and future career goals.

Leaving a job is no longer the stigma it once used to be! In fact, people who work for too long –with almost no change in their job or responsibilities – are suspected by employers more nowadays. So tackle the question head on, stay positive and present yourself in the best possible light.

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