How to Explain Why You Quit Your Last Job (With Examples)
You can expect to be asked why you left your last job at some point during the interview process. Many candidates don’t know how to answer this question honestly or how much information to give. If you think about this question ahead of time, you can feel more sure of your answer.
This article tells you why employers ask this question and gives you some examples of how to answer it.
Why companies want to know why you quit your last job
When employers ask you why you quit your last job, especially if you quit on your own, they want to know more about how well you did on the job and how professional you are. They want to know that you can do the tasks that come with the job, meet professional expectations, and work well with other people.
They also want to know how much you care about the company and how loyal you are to it. Knowing why you left your last job is related to that. For example, quitting suddenly with little notice is very different from giving a three-month notice because you want to go back to school.
How to explain why you quit your last job
How to explain why you quit your last job is a mix of best practices and details that are specific to your situation. The way to figure out how to answer this question is what connects these two things. Here are four steps that will help you answer the question of why you left your last job:
1. Choose your title
The main reason you will give for why you left your last job is the headline. Some of these reasons are both personal and professional, like leaving to make more money or to have a shorter commute to have a better balance between work and life. Whenever you can, try to connect why you want the new job to why you want to go there. For example, if you say you quit to have a better balance between work and life, tell them that the job you’re applying for would cut your commute by an hour.
2. Choose what information to share.
In general, you should be as honest and direct as possible about why you left your last job, without giving away information that could hurt you or your former employer. Doing so shows a level of respect and professional courtesy that a potential employer should appreciate. Beyond that, the exact details of what you should say will depend on your situation.
If, for example, you didn’t want to leave, the interviewer is likely to ask you more questions. If you had to move because you didn’t have enough money or because of something out of your control, be sure to say so and give a reference who can back it up. If it was because you didn’t do your job well, talk about what you learned from that and how you plan to do better in the job you’re applying for.
3. Create a positive frame
No matter why you left your last job, you should make the transition as positive and ambitious as possible by focusing on your desire to learn new skills, try a new career path, or get a higher degree. Even if you left because of a disagreement with a coworker or because you didn’t feel fulfilled, try to say it in a positive or at least neutral way. For example: “The organization was going in a different direction, so it made sense for us to part ways so I could find something more in line with my values.”
Interviewers pay a lot of attention to how and what you say in this area. If you practice ahead of time, you’ll look sure of yourself and like you’ve thought about your transition.
Answers to the question, “Why did you quit your last job?”
Here are some ways to explain why you left a job on your own or because you were fired:
Example: separating on your own
“I worked at James Madison High School for five years. During that time, I learned more about clinical work and improved my leadership and organizational skills. When Dallas Public Schools made a position for a specialist, it was a great chance for me to use my skills to help other schools set up systems for providing clinical services. It was hard to leave because I had made good friends there, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn and grow. I still talk to my former boss and other coworkers.”
Example: a breakup that wasn’t by choice
“Even though there were many good things about my last job, the company hired a new CEO who had a different plan for our work than the CEO who hired me. So, she hired a few new people and got rid of my job to make a different mid-level leadership structure. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to apply for one of these new jobs. Even though I was upset at the time, I understand that she had a different vision for the company, and I’m excited to use my skills and talents at a company whose goals are more in line with mine.”
Describe why you quit your last job.
In addition to the reasons given above, there are other reasons you could give for leaving a job that are respectful to your former boss, answer the question directly, and give you confidence in your ability to do well if hired. Here are some possible reasons why:
- “Another company gave me a better job title and a higher salary.”
- “I went back to college to get a higher degree.”
- “I left to look for growth opportunities that didn’t exist at my old job.”
- “I had been working for the organization for a long time and needed a change of scenery to keep me interested.”
- “My old boss quit, and she asked me to go with her.
- “I wanted to go from full-time to part-time work, but I couldn’t do that at my old job.”
- “I moved out of state, but I couldn’t work from home because there wasn’t a way to do so.”
- “My job was paid for by a grant, but the grant ended.”
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