A common question asked during an interview is “Why Did You Leave Your Last Position?” A friend of mine who worked in Iran during the 1979 revolution offers an easy answer: his resume always says “civil unrest.” While that is a concrete and completely honest answer, most of us don’t usually have such a perfect answer when asked that question during an interview. Futhermore, the answer can be even more difficult if you are still in your current position and interviewing for a new position at another company.
If the questions “Why did you leave your last position?” or “Why do you want to leave your current position?” come up during an interview (and they will), your answers should be brief and honest. Simply stating that you are looking to advance your career or enhance your skill set are easy answers. You want to talk about using your skills, especially new ones you might have acquired through additional education or on-the-job training. You could also mention that you are looking for a position with more advancement opportunities and responsibilities.
What if the reason you are leaving is because of harassment, horrible policies, downsizing, or that your last boss was a complete jerk? Pretend it never happened. Under absolutely no circumstances are you to mention anything negative about you supervisor, your company, or anyone you have ever worked with. There is no possible way to complain without looking bad to the interviewer, so avoid it at all costs. If for some reason the interviewer knows that there was a situation at your last job, answer his questions truthfully, without giving a lot of detail, and direct the focus of the interview back to your qualifications for the job he is interviewing you for.
When interviewing, you want to leave the impression that you are ambitious, hardworking, and the best candidate for the job. Before you interview, take the time to rehearse concrete answers as to why you’re looking for a new job and how your skills, experience, and work ethic make you the best candidate.