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How to Answer this Common Interview Question without Sounding Unprofessional

Posted on September 8th, by Goldbeck Recruiting in Career, Career Development, Interviewing Advice, Job Search, Leadership, Recruitment. Comments Off on How to Answer this Common Interview Question without Sounding Unprofessional

“Why did you leave your last job?”

This may be one of the most common questions asked by a potential employer, and the interviewee’s pitfall if not carefully answered. No matter what your reasons were for leaving, keeping the tone positive and professional is integral to leaving the right impression with a potential employer.

Here’s how to answer:A_Interview_canstockphoto29436544 (2)

Focus on the Positive

Even if things ended badly at your last job, refrain from speaking poorly of your past employer and concentrate on the positive. For example, you could say your previous role developed your skills in x, y, and z but you’ve reached a point where there is limited opportunity for further growth. This new role is an exciting opportunity to grow or diversify your skillset.

Be Honest but Diplomatic

If there were negative reasons for leaving your previous employer that you would be remiss to mention, you can still be honest without going into too many details. If you were laid off, you could explain that due to various changes within the company, you and your manager decided it best to part ways. Put a positive spin on it by explaining what you learned from the experience and how it helped you to move forward with your career.

Keep it Short and Simple

Although it’s important to be honest and not appear evasive, keep your answer short to prevent it from becoming the main point of discussion. Avoid storytelling or imparting more details than necessary.


The key to successfully answering this question is to demonstrate that you are excited by the prospect of taking on a new role, while remaining positive about your experiences with your past employer. Use past work experience as a chance to showcase your willingness to learn, your integrity and your positive attitude!

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