A question you can expect at a job interview is “why did you leave your last job?”

I was recently asked this question by someone on LinkedIn.

“Hi Kerri, I left my job recently and I want to start my career as a Business Analyst. I have been giving interviews from last 2 months and there is one question that I can’t answer properly? Question is: Why did you leave your last job? How to tackle above question beautifully and confidently?”

I answered their question with this video

My initial feedback is that this question does not need to be answered beautifully. It can just be answered. The second thing worth mentioning is that this is not a question to try and get perfect, this is the type of question that needs to build trust.

Why is this question asked at a job interview?

It’s worth knowing why a particular question is asked at a job interview. If you know that people start an interview with “Tell Me About Yourself” because they want everyone in the room to be on the same page about your background, then you strategize your answer. The same goes for the question “why did you leave your last job?”

Interviewers ask “why did you leave your last job” for several reasons including:

  •  they want to make sure that you didn’t leave a position for a reason that is likely to happen in the job they’re hiring for. For example, if you left a job because there was no room for growth, and they know there will zero growth for you at their company too, it may not be a great fit
  • they want to know you better
  • they want to know if the choice was yours or the company’s
  • and like an experienced HR person shared in this LinkedIn post,

“Often we’re not that interested or concerned about the individual response. But if the same answer, in one form or another, comes up every time as an explanation for leaving a job (I got recruited away for more $, I wanted more responsibility/ bigger title, I didn’t particularly see eye to eye with my manager, etc, etc), that’s when the red flag goes up. Being honest and authentic about why you leave is the best way to approach this question…we get that not all jobs are a great fit. We’ve all had jobs that weren’t a great fit! There’s no reason to hide that.”

The question is about building trust

This question is not about having a perfect answer that wows the interviewer. The purpose of your answer is to build trust. If you rely on scripts or memorizing statements you found on free internet articles, you could be hurting yourself in your search. Don’t say things like, “While I enjoyed my last job at ABC company and accomplished many things I am proud of, I was looking for a job that uses my favorite skills, so I made the decision to leave and test myself more professionally.” Instead, ask yourself “how can I build trust with my answer?” How can I help them to understand why I left in a way that builds trust and understanding?” What is the real reason I left?”

This will get you closer to answering the question while building a connection.

Interviewers aren’t trying to trick you into not being eligible for the job. They’re trying to figure out what events took place on the job and within your head that has you sitting with them. Instead of covering up a ill-fitting job, it is refreshing for a hiring person to hear something like, “Before the last job I had, I never understood how culture played such a huge role in my satisfaction at work. I learned that there and when I started to have more poor days, like being unmotivated about projects, than good days. I made the call to leave.” This response helps the interviewer to know the person’s past, their work ethic and it can start a conversation. It also builds trust.

How to plan your answer to “why did you leave your last job?”

Ask yourself, “why did I leave my last job?” Be honest. Try giving that as an answer.


why did you leave your last job


Practice sharing your reasoning with different intentions, for example, try saying it as if it were a threat. Try saying the story in a flirtatious way. Try saying it like a joke. And then try saying it as if you are trying to earn someone’s trust. This helps you to see the response is not just about the words and story, but how you say it.

Ultimately the job interview is about helping the person interviewing you to know what your career has looked like so far, what you bring experience and personality-wise, and if you could help them reach their goals. Being real is the best way to make that happen.