If you plan to quit your old job and switch to a new one, be prepared for a question in advance: “Why did you quit your last job?” Admittedly, the question doesn’t sound particularly insidious or tricky. Still, it is: Regardless of whether you found your last job boring or your boss annoyed, whether you quit or were fired – you should not say that like that.
The interviewer lures you into the past with this question: He is interested in your degree of frustration, whether you felt overworked or underpaid and whether you are now careless enough to take the opportunity to let off steam. Resist the temptation.
Why do HR professionals ask the question?
In short: to get to know you better. In the subtext, your tolerance for frustration, motivation to change, and, of course, possible areas of conflict also resonate. Sometimes HR managers ask indirectly, for example: “Why are you looking for a new job?” Or: “How long have you been looking for work?” Or: “What did you dislike about your previous job?” In all of these cases, I would like the personnel decision-maker to clarify whether you are looking for a new job voluntarily or involuntarily and where potential problems lurk for the team with you. So the question is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It is all the more important that you do not react in a panic to the question, but think about a good reason in advance – and remain honest as well as authentic. Then you can move on to the next question all the faster.
Reasons for termination: never answer bitterly!
There are many potential reasons for termination – but not all of them should be mentioned. Among the reasons that – at least that way – should not be mentioned. Some of the bad reasons include:
The lousy boss
- It’s often true – employees come for the job and leave because of the boss. Nevertheless, it would help if you never criticized your previous manager unfiltered. This is consistently taboo. That makes you a victim (i.e., small) and something of the thrown dirt always sticks to the thrower.
Too much stress
- No matter how great the pressure and workload have been up to now, you will hardly be able to prove this with objectively measurable figures. This leaves you with a subjective impression from the outside world – and makes you look less resilient and organized. More like a whiner. Not good.
Too much boredom
- The opposite of stress is just as unconvincing. Because something can always be done against the alleged bore out, the follow-up question would be immediate: why didn’t you quit earlier? And you no longer look as committed and motivated as your application would have you believe.
Difficulties with the team
- Of course, this also happens: The colleagues just don’t fit or even engage in bullying. This is a genuine reason for resignation, but this information does not give the impression of a confident high performer, but rather the image of a problematic personality who may not join existing teams or who cannot cope with conflicts.
Too much criticism
- Anyone who is constantly criticized will at some point postpone duty. Criticism – whether justified or not – is not a clever reason to leave your job. After all, the personnel decision-maker cannot judge whether there was something to it after all. Effect: You look like someone who can’t stand criticism and doesn’t learn from mistakes.
In general, you shouldn’t let the interviewer fool you and let yourself be pushed into the past – even if he (consciously) provokes you or puts you to the test. No matter what you say: the answer always has a hook and remains suboptimal.
Quite simply: If your answer appears as if you are mainly concentrating on the negative aspects of a job, your future employer will automatically ask itself whether this will not happen again in the new position. And of course, you want to inspire the interviewer about your advantages and not complain about all the frustrations and past anger.
Instead, it would help if you answered the question objectively and professionally – but only to direct your gaze straight ahead straight away, motto:
I had the feeling that in this position, I was staying below my possibilities and couldn’t find a new challenge to develop myself further.
So instead of saying that the working atmosphere was icy and the culture was modest, you’d better say:
After some restructuring and the realignment of our department, I realized that I am not the best person there. And that always limits both sides – my employer and me.
Even if the restriction appears negative at first glance – it is not: Rather, through so much honesty and self-reflection, you express true sovereignty – even forward-looking and in a positive sense.
So never be bitter with this applicant’s question, but rather be confident and future-oriented.
Name reasons for dismissal: The answers
The (unspoken) rule of thumb applies to every job interview: Never say anything negative about previous employers. Instead of getting involved in human dissonances, concentrate purely on the objective reasons for changing jobs – the new challenge, the interesting perspectives, the chance to develop yourself further.
So here are a few more examples of possible answers. Please do not memorize and recite it, but use it as a suggestion for your answers when looking for a job.
You leave the job: good answers.
- “In my previous position, I increasingly had the feeling that I was staying below my possibilities. Even if the working atmosphere there appealed to me enormously, I feel that the perspective limits there – especially in an international context. So it was time for a professional reorientation. “
- I really appreciate my current employer and is also grateful for the cooperation so far. Recently, however, it has been shown that my internal development opportunities are limited. That is regrettable, but therefore I would like to reorient myself professionally and use my knowledge and skills elsewhere.”
- “I am currently looking for a position with more responsibility and new tasks in which I can better utilize my potential.”
- “I have already been able to gain some valuable experience with my previous employer and have been satisfied with the development so far. For some time now, however, the company has been unable to offer any career opportunities. That is why I would now like to join an ambitious and future-oriented company to develop myself further and control I have gained so far in the long term. “
- “Teamwork and an open working atmosphere are important to me. Unfortunately, some restructuring in the past has resulted in personnel changes. That wasn’t always optimal. Your corporate culture fits better with my personal values and goals. That convinced me to change jobs. “
- “I followed my partner to this region. And after my partner has taken on a new job, I am now also looking for opportunities to develop myself further. “
- “My current employer focuses primarily on XYZ. However, I would like to focus and specialize more in the ABC area. That’s precisely what you offer. I am therefore convinced that I will fit in perfectly with your company and that I will be able to bring my skills to bear here.
- “To be honest, I didn’t want to change my job. But then I heard about this job and it impressed me immediately. I believe that I can optimally use my skills and talents here. “
You have been terminated: good answers.
- “The company was restructured. Unfortunately, my position was also rationalized.”
- “Unfortunately, due to a far-reaching restructuring of the company, my branch was also closed. However, due to family obligations, moving is currently out of the question for us. “
- “My previous employer has hired a new manager who has realigned our last team and, in some cases, supplemented it. This was undoubtedly the right step for his strategy, but I don’t think it fits my skills optimally. “
- “I had a brief crisis in the past in which I reoriented myself. This has meant that I also want to change my career and refocus. This process has now been completed, and I think that this position suits me perfectly. “
- “To be honest, I was only fired to avoid being banned from the employment agency. In fact, after many years of good cooperation, we parted ways by mutual agreement. Namely because … (The above reasons for resignation could come here). “
To remain credible at the same time, you should support your arguments with examples:
- What have you been able to achieve so far?
- What stages of development did you go through?
- And above all: Why does this – logically and consequently – have to lead to this point?
The more goal-oriented you appear here, the more convincing you are.