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How to Answer, ‘Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?’ When You Left on Bad Terms


Sometimes, the reason you left your last job is because it was terrible. Your boss or company really was evil, or your co-workers were impossible, or the situation was otherwise untenable. Whether you were fired or force to quit, you will someday have to explain why you left your job — probably at the interview for your next one. Here’s why you should never bad-mouth your former place of employment, and what to do instead.

(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

A job interview is a place to make a business deal. Unless it is your first job out of school, everybody knows you have worked someplace else. You wouldn’t be at the interview if you wanted to stay in your former position. Therefore, there is no reason to feel defensive when you are asked why you left (or are leaving) your former position. Rather, expect to be asked that question, and be ready for it.

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Stay Positive

Don’t try to explain a negative history. Stay positive. If you speak poorly of your former manager, you will likely come across as difficult to manage, and probably not get the job.

If your manager suggested you leave, you can still put a positive spin on it. Try, “After working there for X years, my manager and I recognized we had different visions.” Then, explain your vision in context with the job you want to start.

Focus on the Future

Focus on where you are going, not where you have been. Another positive response is, “I learned so much working there.” Discuss your accomplishments at your former position. You may end with, “I feel ready to move on to my next challenge, and would like to join your team.”

Your behavior in a job interview will reflect upon you. Be polite, and don’t dwell on the negative or the past. Instead, focus on your accomplishments so far and where you see yourself going. Segue into how your learned skills will benefit your future employer.

Tell Us What You Think

How have you answered the difficult question, “Why did you leave your last job?” We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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