Answering the Quitting Question

There could be many different reasons for why you left your last job, or currently looking for a new opportunity while still employed. In an interview, you need to be able to articulate those reasons well without digging yourself into a hole.

All About Perspective

Whatever your reason for leaving, don’t let the negatives become the focus. Explain the benefits of what happened. If you felt like you couldn’t grow any more in the job you’re in, emphasize how you feel the job you’re applying for would give you those growth opportunities. If you were laid off, hopefully it wasn’t because of any fault of your own. Talk about how you and your boss still have a good relationship (maybe they’re even one of your references!). But only do this if you actually do have a good relationship still. There are plenty of negative reasons for quitting a job, but you don’t want to air those during an interview. Instead, find the positives and draw their focus there.

Be Honest, Not Comprehensive

Be tactful and succinct. Express why you want to leave or have left your position, but again, don’t be negative about it. Industries can be interconnected, so you’ll never know if the interviewer(s) know your previous boss or someone in their HR team in some capacity. Plus, if you indulge in complaining about your current or past workplace to the interviewer of this new job, they’ll probably wonder how long it will be until you’re complaining about your new job.

Practice giving a to-the-point answer as to why you’re making this change. Don’t give in to the temptation to complain or point fingers at your workplace. Don’t over talk it.

Consider Your Response

What are some responses for why you’re quitting/have already quit your job? A few could be: a recruiter contacted you and the role sounding intriguing, your current company has limited growth potential, your current company is not investing in new technology and/or in their employees, you had to take care of a sick family member (only if this is true), the job you’re currently applying for was just such a good opportunity, or the growth of this new company is very exciting. All of these are acceptable answers and are much better than just saying, “I hated my job and wanted to leave”. Your next employer wants you to be honest with them, but how you phrase your responses will help them to see the validity of your choice.

How you present yourself and your position is a huge factor in getting a job. Being able to articulate why you left/are leaving a job in a way that shows respect for your previous employer can be key to you being selected for a job. Always show excitement for the opportunity and challenges ahead. With some practice (literally saying the answers out loud) and forethought, you can effectively answer the quitting question.