Career Coaching

"Why did you quit your last job?" : Six ways to answer this inescapable question

One of the most frequently asked questions during a job interview is certainly:

"Why did you quit your last job?"

There's no running away from it, so let's prep for it. This question is both straightforward and complicated. You have to be genuine but also provide a concrete answer without sounding negative at the same time.

Here are six directions that can help you navigate this tricky question. Avoid negative emotions and vague responses, add a personal touch with real examples, and VOILA! You have yourself a good and honest answer.

1. I need new challenges.

"In the three years with my previous company, I had achieved complete proficiency in the many processes relevant to my position. It was time to seek new challenges and fully realize my potential in an expanded role."

Pro tips:

Provide real examples of how you had mastered a critical process, which in turn benefited your previous employer.

However, if you had only been with the last company for less than a year, this is not the ideal response.

2. I want to learn new skills and knowledge

"I realized I wasn't the right fit for that type of position. I'm looking for a new situation that will allow me to learn new skills and knowledge and expand my horizon."

Pro tip:

Conduct thorough research on the potential job and company, and explain why it can be a good fit this time around.

3. It has always been my dream...(upward mobility)

This direction is suitable for those that are moving from a small company to a big one or from a large organization to a smaller-scale operation.

"My last employer was smaller in scale with limited career development opportunities. I've dreamed of working for a larger organization to diversify my job functions and meet more experienced professionals both inside and outside of the company."


"My last employer was a big and well-structured organization. I had a very clearly defined job function with little room to expand my skill sets. I’ve dreamed of joining a smaller firm. A more intimate workplace will give me exposure to different projects and responsibilities and become a more well-rounded business person."

A career coach with expertise in the hiring process can certainly help you develop the know-how and give you a leg up during job hunting.

4. I want a job that's closer to home

"I prefer to work closer to home. The shorter commute leaves more time for both work and play, a more balanced lifestyle."


Make sure the company has the type of culture that cares about work-life balance.

5.  I want an opportunity where my output translates to monetary reward and upward mobility.

"I went above and beyond for my last employer, and I achieved tangible results that directly contributed to the company's bottom line. And yet, my salary never increased, and I believe it was below the market average. I'm looking for an opportunity where my effort and performance can translate to better compensation and promotion when I'm deserving."


This answer is especially relevant for sales positions.

Make sure there is no anger or bitterness in your tone of voice.

List some of those tangible results.

Share something positive about your last employer as well.

6. I was unsure about the future of my last company.

"The company stopped growing amid the current economy. It was downsizing, cutting salary, and even initiating unpaid holidays. It didn't seem promising, so I'm looking for a more stable situation."

The ability to interact effectively with HR and hiring managers is highly advantageous. There's no better way to attain this skill than learning directly from them.

sofasoda's career coaching service is the home of an expanding list of mentors who are experienced in the interview process, and they are ready to share their tips. Click to know more:

Sharpen your interview tools now.







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