Why did you leave your last job? How to answer the question

Unless you are being interviewed for your very first job, the recruiter will surely pop the “Why did you leave your last job?” question. They can reformulate it in different ways:

  • Why are you looking for a new opportunity?
  • Why did you quit your former job?
  • What did the last company fire you for? (In case you mentioned it.)
  • Why are you looking for a new job?

It is a tricky question because the way you phrase its answer will tell the recruiter a lot about you. They want to know your reasons for leaving a job mainly to decide whether they can trust you with your new role or not.

Continue reading and discover how to answer why did you leave your last job? successfully.

For more career advice check our blog!

“Why did you leave your last job” example answers:

I am looking for an opportunity for growth in my career.

Feeling stuck in a job role that doesn’t provide any space for growth and career advancement is very unpleasant. And it is a reasonable way for how to answer why did you leave your last job when a recruiter asks.

How to phrase it: “I have been working with the company for a while in which I gained a lot of experience and almost mastered my role as “X job position”. And I think it’s time for me to navigate the opportunities I have out there to grow and develop in my professional life. And since the former organization was not able to provide such an opportunity, here I am.”

This will prove you have a considerate amount of experience and you have the motivation to learn and grow. And it’s a valid reason for why did you leave your last job.

What to avoid saying is the reason for leaving your last job: “My last job was boring and I did not have much to do. And the working environment was pretty stagnant.”

A similar answer is not advised as you are basically saying you had learned nothing in your last job. No hiring manager would want to accept an inexperienced candidate.

The pay was not enough.

This is another example answer to the why did you quit your former job?question. And it is a valid reason for leaving a job. And recruiters get it. You have the right to leave a job if your efforts are not met with the right remuneration. But you should be careful of how you put it in words so you don’t sound lazy and merely focused on money.

How to phrase it: “I have been with the former organization for a few years. And as my responsibilities and tasks grew and developed. I found that the remuneration did not meet my efforts and the amount of time I have invested into the role. I also came to notice the average salaries offered in the job market for my profile were superior to what I was getting. And I think your offer suits my profile better.”

Phrasing the answer to why did you leave your last job this way highlights your skills and experience and that you are not solely worried about money.

What to avoid saying is the reason for leaving your last job: “They did not pay me well. So I am looking for a higher salary to afford my living expenses.”

This has a negative tone to it and is mainly oriented to salary. If you want to learn more about talking money with recruiters check our last article on salary negotiation.

I was dismissed.

The first piece of advice on how to tell your hiring manager that the reason for leaving your last job was getting fired is:

  • Be honest: Lying about your previous job experience is a risky deal. For if you get caught, if your chances of getting employed are small they’ll become zero.
  • Keep it brief, no useless details: The recruiter is only asking you this question to judge your character and make sure the issue is not going to be reproduced in your new role. They do not want to hear your complete life story. Doing so will bore the interviewer. They will even want to end the interview early which will ruin your employment chances.
  • Have a positive tone: Don’t badmouth your former employer and speak positively about how the experience was just not your best fit. And how enthusiastic you are about starting a new professional journey.
  • Highlight how did you cope with the situation: Turn the event into a learning experience and share with your interviewer how it had helped you grow.

  • Share this post