How to Discuss Why You Left Your Last Position

No matter what your current employment status may be, in every job interview you go on, you can expect to be asked the reasons you left your last position or want to leave your current position.  Employers don’t ask this question in search of juicy gossip about competitors. They want to know if you left voluntarily or if you’re on good terms with former employers. They also want to gain insight into your values and character. It is critical to provide a positive and clear response that reflects positively on you and your former employer, regardless of the situation.

Tips for Preparing a Quality Answer

There are a variety of reasons people leave jobs, but not every reason needs to be shared in an interview. It is important to be honest, but also diplomatic. First and foremost, never speak negatively about a former employer or boss. However, you can still be honest in your answer. Let’s say you feel your current employer operates in a state of chaos thanks to constant management turnover. Instead of saying that, try, “I am best suited to work in a culture that is committed to developing employees and leaders and where there is a strong sense of loyalty. I’ve heard that this organization fosters such a culture.”

What to Say If You Were Laid off or Fired

If you were fired or laid off, it can be tempting to lie. Do not lie because you will be found out during reference checks. In a case like this, be open and honest about the circumstances. Remember, people get fired and laid off every day and manage to rebound to bigger and better things.

If you were laid off, be as positive as possible, even if it still stings. A good response might be something like: “Unfortunately, my firm lost its biggest government contract and revenue took a hit. As a result, they eliminated several positions including mine, because I was one of the 10 most recently hired. I loved working for ABC Corp and I am proud of the results I generated for them. I always received excellent performance reviews and my former supervisor is a strong reference for me today.”

If you were fired, it can be difficult to put a positive spin on the situation, but if you’re honest, you can find the right hook. For example, “Our department fell under new management and the incoming director had expectations for my role that didn’t quite align with my strength, which is project planning. Ultimately, she decided to bring someone on who had more experience in the areas she was looking for. Since my strength is project planning, I know I would be an asset for you in this role. Would you like to hear more about my project planning experience?” Notice that the answer is honest, the language is neutral and it closes with a question that refocuses the interview on your strengths.

If you are a talented engineering professional looking to grow your career, PEAK Technical Staffing USA can help you find your ideal position and achieve your career goals.  Partner with our recruiting professionals today to take your job search to the next level.

About PEAK

PEAK Technical Staffing can help connect you with employers and opportunities that leverage your engineering expertise and advance your career. We partner with employers nationwide who are looking for people with your skills and experience. Since 1968, PEAK has helped engineering professionals find jobs that offer flexibility, challenges and rewards.

Take a look at some of the engineering jobs we offer:

Engineering Manager

CAD Designer (SolidWorks)

Robotics Engineer

If you are looking for employers and opportunities that will take your engineering career to the next level and help you to achieve your goals, contact a PEAK recruitment expert today.


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