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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Williams

15 good responses to 'Why did you leave your last job?'

One of the most common interview questions you'll face if you actively seek a new job is 'Why did you leave your last job?'

Maybe you left under circumstances that you'd rather not share fully but are unsure what to say. Or maybe you think you've got a pretty solid reason for leaving your last job, but you want to make sure you respond well to this question. Either way, this list has you covered.

In this article, we offer you 15 safe, proven answers you can give when the interviewer asks, 'why did you leave your last job?' If you give one of these reasons, the interviewer will likely be satisfied and quickly move on to the next question.

1. 'I had been with the organisation for a number of years and wanted to experience a new environment to continue growing.'

Most people who advance far in their careers have worked in various companies—large, small, public, private, etc.

No hiring manager will fault you for wanting to gain well-rounded experience and a new career perspective.

2. 'I was offered a promotion at another company.'

Your past employers can't always offer the ideal next step for your career when you're ready. Leaving to advance your career is a common reason and this won't be the first time the interviewer has heard it. So if another company offered a promotion, just say so.

3. 'I left for an opportunity to advance my career.'

Maybe you didn't receive a promotion in terms of job title, but you saw a better path forward at another company. Or you joined a new company for an opportunity to build a new skill that was important to you.

It's fine to change jobs if you feel it will help you advance in the future even if it's not an immediate promotion. So you should be fine using this as your answer.

4. 'I was offered a significant pay increase.'

We all go to work for money. Companies get it. I'd try to combine this with another reason so you don't sound too focused on money.

So you could say something like this: 'I was offered a significant pay increase, and was also excited about a couple of product launches that this new company was working on, so it seemed like a great opportunity to take.'

5. 'I left to work on a product I was very passionate about.'

Sometimes an amazing opportunity comes up that matches perfectly with your interests. Nobody will blame you for leaving to pursue something like this. It's a perfectly good reason why you left your last job.

In fact, it's a good reason even if you 'job hopped' and left very soon after being hired. While job-hopping never looks great, this is one of the reasons that an interviewer will understand.

6. 'A former boss or colleague recruited me to join their company.'

Maybe you had a great boss who left to start a company. She called you a year later and said they could really use a great salesperson like you to round out the team, so you went over and joined her. That's a great reason why you left your job.

It's pretty common in some industries and shows that your former boss thought highly of you.

7. 'My department brought in a new manager and I felt it was the right time to leave.'

Things change. A job you used to love could turn not-so-good, and one of the most common reasons is a new director or manager is brought in to replace your old boss.

Sometimes it's not the right fit, so you decided to leave.

If you use this answer, don't badmouth the new management, just say that things changed and you didn't feel as excited about the job under new management, so you decided to look elsewhere for the next step in your career.

8. 'I was hired for a certain role, but over time that changed, and I was no longer being given the opportunity to do the work I was interested in.'

Jobs change. Or sometimes, you're hired for a job, and what they ask you to do ends up nothing like the job description (unfortunately, this happens a lot). This is a fine reason why you left your last job.

This is a very convincing and acceptable answer, even if you left the position soon after being hired. It makes sense, right? You'd leave pretty quickly if the job ended up completely different from what the company had promised.

9. 'I was no longer finding the work fulfilling or enjoying my work as much.'

If you stayed a few years but left because you didn't find the work meaningful or enjoyable, that's fine. Just make sure to show this new company that they're different or that they offer something you do enjoy. If they think you'll find their work boring too, they won't hire you.

10. 'I had been with this company for a number of years and learned a lot, but felt ready for a change.'

If you had been at your last job for a few years or more, there's nothing wrong with just saying you felt ready to move on.

Maybe you learned almost everything you could there, or just wanted to try something new. Those are good reasons for leaving if you spent a long time within one company.

11. 'I reevaluated my career goals and decided a change was needed.'

Goals and objectives change. And if your company doesn't offer something that fits your new goals, it's fine to leave. There's nothing wrong with this answer for why you left your last job.

Just show the interviewer that you know what you want in your career now. And show them how their job fits into your goals. If not, they'll be worried that you might change your mind after they hire you.

12. 'My position was eliminated and I was laid off.'

Layoffs happen. This happens all the time. It's very common and you shouldn't feel any anxiety about giving an answer like this for why you left your last job.

This is one area you want to be specific in your answer though and share details. Were you laid off due to financial struggles? Did your job get outsourced overseas? Did the entire department shut down? Did the company go out of business? etc.

13. 'I didn't feel there was an opportunity to grow or advance further in that role so I decided a change would be best for my career.'

If your company was holding you back or stuck under a 'glass ceiling', this is a nice way to say it in the interview without sounding too negative.

14. 'I wanted to take on new responsibilities that this role and company couldn't offer.'

You mastered the basics of the job and wanted to lead people, projects, etc. And the company couldn't offer it, so you had to make a change. Totally fine. The interviewer will understand. And you'll sound ambitious and motivated which is great.

15. 'I didn't feel the job was using my abilities to the fullest or challenging me enough.'

If you're bored or not being challenged, staying motivated and focused on your career and work is hard. So there's no problem with giving this as your reason for leaving your last job.

Just make sure you don't sound spoiled or negative or ungrateful when you say this. Don't make it sound like the job wasn't worthy of you, or anything like that. Just explain that you felt capable of more and wanted a greater challenge.

Or mention a specific skill of yours that wasn't being utilised. Maybe you're a great salesperson but they had you doing customer service. It would sound great to mention this if you were interviewing for a sales job because it shows you want to do sales.


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