How to Explain in a Job Interview Why You Left Your Last Job

Michaela Coll
Posted by in Career Advice

You may be on the lookout for a new job opportunity. A common question hiring managers ask during interviews is, “Why did you leave your last job?” 

If you left your previous job with any feelings of hostility, anger, or disappointment, you may find it difficult to answer that question in a positive way. If you left because you weren’t challenged and wanted to try something new, you can also put a positive spin on why you left. 

Here are some reasons you can provide: 

  • Seeking career progression. If you left your previous job because you felt you couldn’t progress and get ahead, it’s okay to say that—in a way that indicates your striving for something more. This shows the interviewers that you’re looking to advance your career and keep growing from a professional standpoint. 
  • Desire to take on new challenges. You might have left your last job because it became uninteresting after a while. You want something that proves a challenge and helps you grow. This shows future employers that you’re willing to adapt and pivot when needed, which is always a good attribute to have. 
  • Family or personal reasons. Sometimes loved ones fall ill or you need to take a step back to focus on your mental health or go back to school.  Explain why you had to leave and then highlight how things have changed. Emphasize that you’re now able to work again. Those looking to hire you don’t want to fear that you’ll leave a position at their company for the same reasons. 
  • Looking for a change. If you’re changing to a completely different industry or moving locations, it’s okay to share that your interests have changed in what you want to do professionally or where you want to work. Sometimes our previous jobs teach us what we don’t want to do, so we can look for what we do want to do! 

These suggestions air on the positive side of responses. You want to remember not to speak badly about your previous employer if you had a negative experience that caused you to leave. Be factual, focus on your own career progression, and show them what you have to offer.


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  • desiree b.
    desiree b.

    I had two interviews, and this question came up. After 15 years with your company, why are you no longer with them? I was honest, telling the reasons: The Covid -19 pandemic changed how I see the future of my professional life. Returning to school, schedule flexibility, better salary, and career progression. In addition, I want to change from a big corporation to a small company. Being honest, positive, and sincere is the best way to answer the question.

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