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During an interview, one of the most pressing questions you are asked is why you left a previous job. Although some situations are fairly self-explanatory, like layoffs, your answer to this question could make or break your career before it even starts. Even in situations that were totally your fault could have a positive spin if you word your responses well enough.
1. Layoff – A layoff is an explanatory reason for leaving a job. You can’t very well stay working for a company that can’t afford to keep you. However, there may be additional information you can offer in order to put yourself in a more positive light. You could have been one of the last to be officially laid-off. Perhaps your previous employer moved you to other positions in order to stretch out your employment longer. Any details surrounding your layoff could increase your value as a candidate.
2. Fired – Being fired from a job can be detrimental to your interview depending on the circumstances. As long as you’re completely honest with your interviewer, even being fired for excessive tardiness can be excused as long as you explain how it was a learning experience and you’ve changed your work ethic since then.
Many good employees have been fired for simple infractions of company policies. The best thing you can do is detail how the experience affected you as a person. Don’t simply try to tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. Be sincere in your explanation and show that you have developed as a person since the experience.
Even if the reason for your dismissal was beyond reproach, an honest explanation can help keep you considered as a candidate for the position. The interview process is a way that a company can test your interpersonal skills as well as gain additional knowledge about your past workmanship. During the interview, the hiring staff are taking notes on your hygiene, annunciation, body language, and other physical characteristics. If you truly have remorse for the way you were fired, the potential employer will notice it.
3. Better Pay/Opportunities – Simply advising that you left a job in lieu of better pay and/or opportunities may have a negative impact on your interview. From an employer point of view, why would they hire an individual that has potential to leave at any moment? Again, explanations of why the better pay was preferable at that particular time could help reduce the damage.
Employers want to hire those who have staying power, unless the position is seasonal. They want to know that training you isn’t going to be a waste of time, if you are planning to leave as soon as something better comes along. You could explain to the employer that you felt you could grow as a professional in your career by moving on to other opportunities, but never bluntly tell them that the move was simply because of more money.
4. Personal Circumstances – There are instances in our lives that we just don’t have control over. Moving from one city or state to another is a greatly used personal circumstance on applications for leaving a job. As long as you explain in greater detail of why the move was necessary, your interview will be good.
Personal views of company practices as a reason for leaving is a little more tricky to explain in a way that doesn’t make you look snobbish, however. Many people will leave a business that they believe doesn’t have their own or customer best interest in mind. While many employers may see this as a sign of morality, others may see it as an excuse to leave because the situation suits the candidate. Be detailed in your explanation as to why the company you left behind didn’t deserve your skills or abilities. Personal reasons for leaving are always difficult to recover from because they can easily put you in a negative light. They best you can hope for is that the interviewer understands your point of view.
You should never blatantly lie to a potential employer. Even omitting important information regarding past employment could have a negative impact later on. Be truthful and detailed in your explanations. As long as you are enlightened from past experiences, most interviewers will be impressed by your honesty.
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