How To Explain Why You Left Your last Job And Still Get The Role
October 28, 2016
So, why did you leave your last job? It is the question that most candidates fear, and particularly so if the end stage of the role was unpleasant in some way. Leaving a job is a personal and often emotional decision, so be sure to practice your response to this question so that you can come across with just the right amount of professionalism, conciseness, and believability in your next life sciences interview.
Because this topic is fraught with emotion for many candidates, we’ve have shared the main strategies to handle this notoriously tricky question.
1. Remain professional or risk losing their trust instantly.
Life sciences interviews tend to be fairly formal affairs, so it’s important to keep things extremely professional and avoid airing any ‘dirty laundry’ about past employers or managers.
If you were badly treated in your last job it can be difficult to hold back your sense of grievance, but you simply must frame your exit in a calm and collected way that shows that you don’t speak badly about your employers, or worse still, break confidentiality in any way.
You don’t want to raise any eyebrows with your answer, you just want the interviewer to be able to hear your explanation and think ‘Ok, that’s reasonable’…and move on to talking about the role again.
2. Keep it concise.
When you practice your response to this question, be aware of how long you’re talking. Think about it: Is talking about the end of your last job a good use of your time in the interviewer?
And how badly do you need the hiring manager to understand every last facet of why you left your job? The longer you talk, the more it will sound like there’s a story under the surface that you’re trying to hide. Think of all the reasons you left your role, and pick one major factor that sounds both professional and reasonable.
3. Make sure you’re believable.
To start with, there are some answers that tend to raise suspicion— such as if you said there was no challenge in a management role at a notoriously high-powered company, or left because you wanted less pressure.
However, it’s not just about what you say when it comes to this question, it is just as much about how you say it. If you’re dreading this question it will probably show in your body language and in your voice, and the hiring managers will immediately suspect there is something amiss. Practice your response so you can breeze through it without a hitch.
4. Frame the explanation positively in regards to your new role.
When talking about why you left the last role, it’s a great idea to make a note of what you learnt that applies to the role that you’re applying for. For example: I learnt so much there about management, particularly when I was given the opportunity to lead the research team, but after several years there I’m keen to apply what I’ve learnt to a new challenge and working environment.
5. Shape the truth to your advantage, but never break it.
The safest approach to this kind of question tends to be something that shapes the truth to reflect you in a better light, but doesn’t break it. I didn’t feel like the company was the right place/career path for me anymore, so after discussions with my manager about my future in the company I decided I should move on to a new role.
6. Don’t be ashamed.
Remember, there’s no shame in leaving a job- even if it didn’t end brilliantly. No matter why or how you left, remember that this is your job interview and your career, so it’s important to be able to come to terms with your last job departure and be able to explain it in a way that puts hiring managers’ minds at ease.
7. Be confident.
If this gnarly question still really gives you concern, remember that the interviewer has been impressed enough by your CV to grant you an interview, and by asking this question they’re simply looking for any glaring reasons they should strike you out of contention. So don’t give them any. Keep it short, simple, and authentic- without straying into the region of the ‘overly honest’ which will almost certainly sabotage your chance of success.
So, why did you leave your last job? It’s just a little question, and you know beforehand that it’s going to be asked. This knowledge gives you plenty of time to prepare for it and cast yourself in your best light.