We all hate uncomfortable questions, but destiny has it that the things we try and avoid, find their way somehow into an encounter with us. For instance, the question ‘why did you leave your last job?’; you feel bombarded with such enquiries, especially, if you had been fired or let go from your previous place of work. But now that you know, you are likely to be faced with such bombs at an interview, being prepared is the best way to go about it.
The reason a recruiter asks such a question is precisely to know the reason why you had to jump ship. They want to ensure that the person they intend to hire does not have an unconstructive professional past that may impair their organization as well. Whether the candidate has left the previous job voluntarily, or due to unavoidable circumstances faced by the company is what they wish to find out. Depending on the reply of the interviewee, the interviewer deduces the terms on which the job was left and the work ethics of the individual being interviewed.
While answering this ‘googly ball’, there are certain things that you should say as also those that you should not say. The first rule of replying to this question is not to get nervous and look awkward, because it seems to get transferred onto the interviewer and it may lead to you losing the job altogether. On the contrary, prepare yourself thoroughly with the answer beforehand, and if necessary practice it in front of your friend, and ask him to point out any lack of confidence in your body language.
The second very vital thing is never to tell a lie; untrue stories don’t help you get very far in your career; it is hazardous to the health of your corporate life. Speak the truth as far as possible because if the interviewing company does run down a reference check on you, you will have nowhere to go, as they will surely find out the actual reason, if not immediately then eventually.
When answering ‘why did you leave your last job?’, never speak ill of your previous employer, it does not put your employer in a negative light; instead, it is you who appears to be utterly negative. It is like a boomerang shot, trying to show faults with the former boss is a red flag for the hiring manager sitting in front of you. So stay calm and restrict your language to being neutral and civil even if the previous experience still has a terrible taste in your mouth, this shows your professionalism.
Next, do not start explaining a thesis when attempting to answer this question; you will need to exercise your skill of discretion and keeping a balance. While you do not have to give in-depth details of what happened which made you quit the last job, yet, it should not be sketchy as well. Keep your reasons brief and intelligent. For example, you can say that the company was downsizing owing to a major loss, incurred and since you were among the recently recruited staff, you and a few others were let go. You see how you give sufficient causes for the occurrence, yet do not make it a novel and waste your interview time.
Finally, remember that the focus is on getting this new job, so make every attempt at the end to draw attention towards how you are a perfect choice for the position being offered. Once you have explained why did you leave your last job its time you tell them something like – though you were asked to leave the previous workplace, yet you are equipped with the skills and knowledge you gained formerly, which are suited for this job and that you can easily transfer them and put them to good use immediately. Also adding that your previous employer will be more than happy to give a reference letter vouching for your excellence in work, further supports your claim of being appropriate for the position.
However, if you had been eliminated from the older company due to performance issues, you will have a completely different approach to answering this question. There you have to say that perhaps a change in the administration considered that your experience was falling short of what they expected and so they brought in someone else with greater experience. Nonetheless, this incident helped you figure out the exact area of your expertise, and that is cohesive to the position presently being offered. Make a statement showing your eagerness to exhibit your skills if they wish to see it.
Interviews can never be a joy ride, but you can make it bearable by preparing yourself ahead of time and sufficiently enough so that you can answer even the trickiest questions with confidence. And leave with a smile saying ‘and that’s the way the cookie crumbles’!