You are dreading this question, really dreading it, but you know that interviewer who is an absolute stranger is going to ask it. Why did you leave your last job? Your answer to this question is an opportunity to put your best foot forward even when it has a bit of mud on it. Employers are looking to get to know you at an interview and this is one of their favourite questions.

You need to prepare an answer for this question in advance to prevent emotions, untruths, the appearance of dodging the question, long winded stories, blaming others or even the blank stare from affecting your answer. You need to tell a truth that is comfortable for both you and the interviewer.

Here are some suggestions on how to start your answer:

  • I was successfully employed at ABC Company for 8 years….
  • While I was at ABC, I learned the following skills…..
  • I made a mistake and I will definitely not do that again. What happened was…
  • There was a change in management and the new supervisor and I had trouble getting along. We tried to make it work but I decided that it was better to leave.

It all depends on the reason why you left. However, remember that even if you were told to leave, you still left.


  • Practice, practice, practice! With a friend or job coach if available.
  • Keep your answer to 3 sentences or less.
  • Keep your emotions as low key as possible. Some emotion is okay.
  • Remember they must want to hire you or they would not be interviewing you.
  • Be honest but not too honest! This is not about telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Tell them what you feel is relevant.
  • Do not bad mouth or blame your past employer.
  • Make what you say comfortable for yourself and the employer.
  • You may find the interviewer more sympathetic than you expect. They are people too.

The employer will believe your comfortable truth because your sincerity will come through your body language, gestures, tone of voice. So trust them, at least, a little to hear about the reason you left. They may actually hire you based on your answer, if you demonstrate good character by telling the comfortable truth.

by Jill Galloway, Employer Liaison, Orillia

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