How To Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job” In An Interview

why did you leave your last job

Why Did You Leave Your Job

One of the most frequently asked questions in a job interview is, “Why did you leave your last job?”

It’s an important question because it reveals a lot about a potential hire – and fully preparing for it is crucial since you can guarantee it will be asked.

If you are not prepared, it shows a lack of reflection and preparation, which is an immediate red flag for an employer.

Here’s how you can prepare along with some example responses.


Questions Answered:

  • Why do employers ask this question?
  • Reasons why you left your last job
  • Why did you leave your last job example answers
  • How not to answer

“Why did you leave your last job?”

While this is the most commonly phrased version of this question, “Why are you looking for a new job, right now?” can also be used.

Before we deep dive into how to answer these questions, let’s examine the reasons why employers ask them.


According to the latest interview statistics, 91% of employers expect the interviewee to know the salary before the interview.”

— Job Description Library

Why Do Employers Ask Why You Left Your Last Job?

First, your employer is going to be evaluating your motives for changing jobs

  • If you decided, out of the blue, that you no longer want to work for a company and leave on a whim, it’s a red flag.

  • With that said, if you show that you reflected on your decisions and ultimately decided that your goals and aspirations changed within your current company, it shows you can make informed and mindful decisions. 
  • Loyalty is always appreciated.

Next, the employer is going to be curious whether you were fired, or whether you left on your own accord. 

  • Again, this is going to reveal a lot about your values, and how you perform at work. If you were fired, can you take responsibility for your actions?
  • A positive and honest attitude is always appreciated, but putting the blame solely on the employer is a red flag. It signals that if a dispute happened between you and this potential company, a similar result (blaming them) might occur.  

Last, and on a similar note to above, the employers want to know about your diplomatic intelligence.

  • When discussing your past employers, can you talk about them respectfully or will you slander the company?
  • It is excellent if you left on good terms because it shows you have good communication skills.
  • A good reference from a past employer can also go a long way. 

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job Reasons

In real life, there are millions of reasons why people left their last job. In some cases, it’s completely civil, and you simply wanted a change in your career.

However, in other cases, it’s not as clean, and you may have had a falling out with the company. 

Common reasons why people want to leave their jobs:

  • They’re bored and unfulfilled at work
  • They do not like their managers
  • The pay is bad
  • They’re in the wrong field
  • They’re looking for a change
  • The commute is too long

These are all valid reasons why someone may leave a job, but you should put more thought into your response. You do not want to come across as rude and desperate, so you need to ensure your answers are mindful. 

Before we discuss the best answers to the question, let’s go over some ways you should NOT respond. 


Related:


Why Did You Leave Your Last Job Best Example Answers

So, now that we have discussed what not to say, let’s go over what you should say. The key here is to be respectful, inspired, and eager. You can change and edit the responses as you see fit.

New Career Goals: 

  • Example Answer: “Over the past few months, I have taken the time to evaluate my career goals. While I work for a great company and have a good team, I decided that I am no longer the best fit for that company. I need a role that offers me X (think: creativity, analytics, more responsibility). I believe that this job can offer me X and that I would be a great contributing member of your team.” 
  • Why It’s Good: In this statement, you display that you have been thoughtful and mindful of your decisions. It shows that you do not make impulsive choices and are very loyal to your company. You also demonstrate that the job you are applying for is aligned with your new goals. 

Finding Your Job Boring: 

  • Example Answer: “I had/have a really great job for a great company. I feel like I have learned a lot while being in this role, but it is no longer challenging me. I want to work in a role that offers growth and better fulfills me.”
  • Why It’s Good: It shows that you are respectful and appreciative of the company, but that you have “mastered” your current role. It also shows that you are ambitious and determined by seeking a role that is more challenging. 

Being Fired:

  • Example Answer: “If I am honest with you, I was fired from my last position due to a mistake on my part. I discussed my mistake with my boss and manager, who are great people, and they told me how to avoid the mistake in the future, which I really appreciated. While it is a shame that I was fired, I really appreciate that they took the time to help me learn from my mistake. I now have new information and perspective which will make me a better worker.” 
  • Why It’s Good: The trick here is the balance of taking responsibility for your mistakes, being respectful to your past company, and showing that you can learn from those slip ups. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but being able to truly learn from them shows commitment to your role. 

How Not To Answer The Interview Question

Bashing Your Previous Company

  • Example Answer: “I do not like the company I work for. They have no respect for me or my time. The bosses are terrible, and the managers are worse. My colleges are also horrible to work with. I am miserable.” 
  • Why It’s Bad: Even if the company you work for is bad, you do not want to be rude about them. This is because your potential employer will assume that you will also be rude about their company if you were ever fired. Plus, it shows a lack of diplomatic skills, which is vital for communication in the workplace. 

Making Mistakes

  • Example Answer: I was fired because I made a huge mistake at work. The managers were really mad at me and fired me on the spot.” 
  • Why It’s Bad: Being honest and being able to admit to your mistakes is a good trait, but in a job interview, this needs to be balanced. While it’s good to admit to your shortcomings, do so in a way that puts you in a good light. Such as how graceful you left the company and how respectful you are towards them despite being fired. 

Job Was Boring

  • Example Answer: “I found my job really boring. I found no fulfillment in what I did so I started to hate and resent the company.” 
  • Why It’s Bad: Again, too much honesty is not the best policy. While it’s fine to admit the job was no longer fulfilling, you should not be rude about the company. Instead, look to prove why the job you are applying for is a great fit.

employment quits chart

Wrapping Up | Why Did You Leave Your Job

The best way to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job?” is to be respectful, thoughtful, and ambitious.

This important question and your answer are both essential in any interview process.

While you do not need to go into excess detail, make sure to word your answer in such a way that reflects your good and ambitious nature.

We hope this helps and good luck with your upcoming interview!


Title: Job Interview Asking Why Did You Leave Your Last Job

Category: Job Interview

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Co-Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He’s an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile


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