Author Topic: How to explain why I resigned from my previous job in an interview politely.  (Read 4002 times)

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aussie_chick

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Just trying to think what I like to hear. I recruit a lot of people.

Do not complain about previous employer at all. Even in an implied fashion.

Focus on you - together with the company you're applying with. Your great skills and this company presents opportunities for you to achieve what you want but also achieve what they want - mutually beneficial exercise.

E.g why did you leave your last position?
I decided after x years with company it was time for the opportunity to learn some new skills and I know your company really focuses on developing leaders/staff training opportunities/skills development (whatever is most appropriate)

Agree with others - emphasise what you did like. If not the company then what you liked about the work.

Or. "At old company a lot of the work I was doing was with abc type accounts. I know your company deals with a lot of xyz type accounts and that's an area i'm really interested in"

I often think the best way to avoid negativity about an old employer is to research the hell out of the company you're applying with and focus on discussing the new company with you, not your old company with you.

The reality is that savvy recruiters will read through the BS and spin. They will know there is more to the story. But much better for them to be curious than to know for sure why you left and have you leave the interview with them thinking "wow i wonder what they'll say about us when they leave"

I wouldn't mention working conditions at all until you're offered the job. Even if unintended it can appear presumptuous. Unless specifically asked about overtime then of course be honest. But if you're not asked, the time to negotiate or discuss the specifics are once you've been offered the job.

Betelnut

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Oh, don't say anything negative about having to "take up the slack" of other people!  My god, that makes it sound like you're not a team player and a whiner!  Huge red flag for people hiring.
Native Texan, Marylander currently

TootsNYC

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I agree w/ the last two posts--except that I think people may say, "why did you leave before you had another position?" Or they may wonder it, even if they don't say it.

So while you don't want to trash-talk them, you also don't want to leave room for the interviewer to think that you've been fired. Laid off would be OK, but you don't want to lie, even by omission.

So I like the "I wanted something new--in the same field, but with some fresh challenges--but I found it impossible to look while I was working there. It was simply too demanding, and I took my responsibilities too seriously. So I felt my time was best used looking for work."

ringingbells

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I think you should absolutely mention your work/life balance concerns. Definitely don't get into all the gory details and paint your old employer in a negative light, but don't lie about why you're leaving. I would say something to the effect of, "I left my last position, because at this point in my career, I'm looking for more of a work/life balance. While I'm happy to pitch in overtime during crunches, 10-12 hour workdays were the norm at my last job, and I'm trying to get away from that."

If this answer makes the potential employer turn you down, then it probably wasn't the right job. Because ultimately, if you don't want to work 50-60 hour weeks all the time, you really need to know if that's a dealbreaker for the employer, IMO.

You might check out the AskAManager blog. I find it very helpful for these sorts of questions. Good luck in your search! :)

sweetonsno

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Why not just say that you want to try some new challenges or that it just wasn't a good fit for you anymore? Nothing wrong with being vague on this one.

camlan

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My sister was in the same situation--completely burnt out after weeks and weeks and weeks of, for her, unpaid overtime. When she started with that company, there were 9 people in her department. For the last 2 years, there have been only 4. Everyone was completely maxed out and stressed.

In her interviews, she did not reference this at all. Her explanation for looking for a different job was that she had pretty much gone as far as she could with her current company--they even created an Assistant Manager job just for her, and she was looking for new challenges.

Do come up with a short, sweet explanation that you feel comfortable with. Don't mention anything that would raise red flags for the interviewer though.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


DavidH

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I think she needs to say something plausibly bad enough to quit without another job over, but that doesn't reflect negatively on her or her prior employer.  This can be anything from the changing amount of overtime required to taking care of an ill relative (if true).  Without any reason or a weak one, it can raise all sorts of speculation, was she fired, how is she flakey, none of which are desirable in a new hire. 

If you are interviewing in response to a head hunter call, then you can say, I wasn't looking for a job, but when I heard about this opportunity, it was so interesting I wanted to learn more.

If you have a job and are looking, you can say all sorts of things around looking for new challenges, limited in your current role, heard great things about the company you are interviewing with and so on.

If you've quit, it is, at least in my field, sufficiently unusual that it would be good to give some reason to head off any negative speculation.