Job Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

It’s not uncommon to be asked during the interview about why you left your last job or why you’d like to leave your current job. The key to answering this question is to be positive and emphasize the future.

Before we delve into the specifics on answering the question positively, let’s first establish how you shouldn’t answer the question:

  • Don’t badmouth your previous or current employer.

  • Don’t badmouth your previous or current boss.

Instead, you want to keep the conversation positive and focused on the job you’re targeting. Here are a few examples of how to answer this question, whether you were laid off, fired or are leaving on your own.

Laid Off

  • The company was cutting back on expenses, and unfortunately, my job was one of the 600 cut.

  • I was laid off along with my entire department due to company restructuring.

  • The company hired a new manager who “updated” my team, cutting out current employees to bring on members of her old team. I understand that was her right, and it has enabled me to open myself to new and better opportunities.


  • Looking back, I realize that I made some bad choices and should have done things differently. I’ve taken this as learning experience so I can avoid those mistakes in the future. I hope I can have the opportunity to prove this to you.

  • My talents and competencies were not a good fit with the needs of my previous company, but they seem like a perfect match for the role you have open. Would you like to hear more about my experience in graphic design?

  • I was dealing with a number of personal problems that led me to disconnect from work, and ultimately led to my departure. I had the time to take care of these issues and am back, focused and ready to exceed your expectations.


  • I’m looking for opportunities with more responsibility and potential for advancement, where I can challenge myself and use my production skills in a different capacity.

  • I left my previous job when my spouse was transferred and am looking for an opportunity in our new area.

  • The hour and a half commute I was making each day at my previous employer was wearing me down. I would prefer to work closer to home.

  • Honestly, I wasn’t planning to leave, but I came across this opportunity which seems like an exciting challenge that exactly matches my skill set.

Got a tricky situation and don’t know how to explain the reason why you left or are leaving a job? Ask the community in the comments section below.

  • Rachel

    I was let go from my job in January. They told me they felt I was unhappy there and that they wished me luck in the future. Just not sure how I should answer the question…. Of why were you let go? Seems like no one wants to hire me because I was let go.

  • Wzox

    I started working for a new company in a sales position about 9 months ago. After coming on board I became aware that the company has bad credit and very poor accounting practices. Can I speak honestly about this in an interview without it coming off like I am speaking negatively about my employer?

  • Meca

    I was not renewed because I reported a sexual harassment incident involving my boss’s friend. Once the report was made, the boss made it his personal mission to make me look bad. When it was time for contracts, he did not renew mine. Since then, he has black balled me from getting other jobs in the area. I had no other recourse than to file with state and federal agencies that deal with whistle blowing issues I know that I will eventually be vindicated but it doesn’t help me right now since I cannot get a job to support my family.

  • Miguel Diaz

    I have a question about how I should answer this if anyone is willing to hear it.

  • Christine

    I left an insurance company for retail

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  • Rick Hoffman

    How about if I was let go for workman’s comp issues I had lifting restrictions

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