‘Why did you leave your last job?’ is one of the most commonly asked questions during job interviews. In this blog, Carol, Niall, Sarah and Alison give their tips and advice on how to approach answering this interview question; what to say and what not to say at your next job interview.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I firmly believe you should always stick to the truth or as close to the truth as you can in answering this very important interview question!  As I believe the truth will always catch-up with you in time.

A very common and acceptable reply would be ‘to further my career and expand my experience within a different office/business environment’.  Or it could be the fact that the geographical location of the new opportunity suits you better, which is a perfectly acceptable and worthy response. The examples above are two very common reasons why people look to move jobs. If either applies to you don’t be afraid to be honest and use them.

                                                                                                   Carol Lochab, Recruitment Consultant, South East   Carol Lochab

Be Prepared & Don’t Badmouth Your Boss

This is a reasonable question that will be asked in all interviews as it gives the interview panel an idea of your commitment and stability from your employment pattern to date. It’s vitally important you are confident and assured in the response you give to this question and be ready to answer any probing or follow up questions your response may bring.

Ensure the response you give does not look negatively on your current manager and workplace by refraining from talking negatively about your current employer. This may portray you negatively and will affect your interview success. Talk positively even if the reasons you are seeking new opportunities are otherwise. Reasons to give for leaving your current or last position include, new opportunities, lack of progression or opportunities in the company due to the size, to grow your career or to move into a different area to develop new skills.

In terms of your previous work experience be able to speak confidently about the reason you left the company, whether it was redundancy, fixed term contract or downturn in the company. If you had a contract position that was short-term be able to explain why you were not offered an extension or a permanent opportunity in that position or other departments if the organisation has a large workforce. Candidates with many contract positions may be probed further in regards why there was no permanent or long term opportunities offered to him/her. Preparation is key in order not to stumble in the interview.

                                                                                            Niall Curley, Recruitment Consultant, Midlands & West Niall Curley

Keep In Mind the Role You Are Applying For

This is a guaranteed question to be asked of you in an interview so it is important to be able to answer it strongly. Employers or recruiters will ask you this to determine if this really is the move for you. For example if you are looking to move from your current role because you can’t progress any further in it and this role will definitely have no progression opportunities, a hiring manager will question if the role would suit you. Likewise, perhaps you were in a sales role and mentioned you were looking to get in to marketing. You apply for a role that includes elements of both sales and marketing. In this scenario, it may not be wise to mention you are looking to get out of sales as this may raise alarm bells in the mind of the employer.’

You will need to think through your reasons carefully, bearing in mind the role you are interviewing for, and as Niall mentions, be mindful that you do not speak badly about your current/previous employer.

                                                                                              Sarah Heffernan, Recruitment Consultant, South East Sarah Heffernan

Be Professional in this interview question

This might sound quite obvious but one thing that jobseekers have to keep in mind is that when attending an interview you are meeting a prospective employer. Therefore it is crucial to remain professional when discussing the reasons why you left or are planning to leave your previous or current position. There might be a temptation to use this opportunity to discuss your frustrations with your existing employer or team mates. But think about how that would sound to the interviewer. You may come across as someone who doesn’t work well with others or as a difficult individual to manage. Try and put a positive spin on your answer. By explaining that you no longer feel challenged in your current role and want to try something new your prospective new employer will be impressed with your willingness to grow, learn new things etc.

                                                                                       Alison Colgan, Recruitment Consultant, Midlands & West Alison Colgan

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