At job interviews, you’ll likely have to plan your reasons for leaving a job or why you want to. This may seem like a straightforward question, but it can be a risky one. Interviewers will pay attention to how you answer this question and how you discuss your old job. From your answers, they’ll draw some conclusions about you–some accurate and some not. This will tell them how likely you’ll adapt to the job once they hire you.
But how can you talk about your previous job in a way that’s honest but doesn’t burn any bridges? The Cut recently highlighted ways you could do this without ruining your chances and we have them here for you.
Interviewers will understand that there are plenty of horrible bosses out there and that’s why you may be leaving your job. But the problem with this is that your interviewers don’t know you well enough to decide if you’d both agree your boss is terrible. If you bad-mouth your boss at your interview they may wonder what the other side of the story and if maybe you were the problem. You may say that your boss was a micromanager, and even if that is true, it could look like it was because your work wasn’t good.
An unspoken rule, in general, is that you should never bad-mouth previous employers–it’s considered a bit tacky. So some interviewers will be put off because of this, even if what you’re saying is credible.
So if you’re leaving a job because of your boss it is better to answer a reason that has nothing to do with your boss. Just say that you’re “ready for a new challenge” or something along those lines.
If your job was eliminated–you weren’t fired for performance reasons, you can be honest. Layoffs are normal and you shouldn’t feel stigma around it happening to you. If you’re able to share info that will explain the lay-off that’s good (like if they cut everyone who was hired in the last year or an entire team). But it’s fine if you don’t have context either.
You Were Fired
You may be tempted to cover up that you were fired but please don’t. If you lie and say you quit or frame it as a layoff the employer may find the truth when contacting your references. And if that happens, you’re done.
Don’t over explain what happened–it may make you look more defensive and make it look like a bigger deal than it is. The Cut gives some great examples of what you could say in their article.
You Were Underpaid
Some may think that you should never say money was a reason you left a job, but if you’re truly underpaid don’t be afraid to share that. It’s also okay to explain a major lack of benefits. Any reasonable interviewer will understand these reasons.
You Disliked The Work
Be straightforward is you didn’t like the work itself because it will benefit you. You will be able to identify jobs you may dislike for the same reasons. Be sure to frame it in a positive way and also talk about what you actually want to do. Also be straightforward if it was something related to the work, like if you had to travel more than you liked.
You Hated The Office Culture
Like the latter, it also benefits you to explain if you disliked the office culture. Find the language that sums up what you didn’t like and be nonjudgmental. For example, if you didn’t like your work environment because it wasn’t very collaborative explain that and that you want an environment that involves more collaboration.
We hope these tips will help you get a job that you’ll love. Good luck with that job search, you got this!