How to Answer Why Did You Leave Your Last Job by Developing a Narrative

At 40 years old, you see the warning signs that it is time to leave your job. You being dreading Mondays, many of your colleagues are leaving, and you begin counting down the minutes before you can leave. Making a job change in this unpredictable market is frought with risk and tryng to expalin why you want to leave in a job interview and on your application only compounds the anxiety.

In this article, I will go through what you need to include in your answer and what you need to avoid. The secret is having a narrative. This strategy will work for anyone applying for example a manager role, nurse manager, CNA, cabin crew, cashier, or teacher.

Develop your narrative

A narrative is your story. It is the story you want the interviewing panel to hear and it is something you will draw from during the interview to answer other questions. Your narrative comes from your application and it fully explains your reason for you leaving.

Using a narrative is a job interview skill that is immensely powerful and if you can effectively use it then it will help you get the offer. For it to be effective you need to be concise and summarise the reason in a few sentences.

First step in developing the narrative is understanding your journey

To switch jobs, you will need to understand your journey. Simply put, how did you get to this point? What were the events that led you to want to make the switch, change? Likewise, why did you accept your current job.

Second step: edit

Second step involves editing your journey. Talking in detail about your job and why you want to leave, probably will exceed the length of the interview. Look for one up to three events that is leading you to leave. 

Third step: look at the larger picture: What are your achievements?

Look at the story within the story, the larger picture. How many years are you with your company? What are your achievements?  What is your development? Is the company undergoing change?

Fourth step: Look at your narrative from the perspective of the interviewer

An interviewer does not want to hear negatives and does not want to hear about conflict. Instead they want to hear about your success and how you can help them. This means, speaking negatively about your boss, speaking negatively about your company, or its customers will work against you. Likewise, talking about any conflict or grievance will only hurt your chances. If you a grievance or conflict is the reason for you leaving then it is best to reframe.  

Step 5: Review the job description and research the company

At this stage you understand your reason for leaving. Now, is the time to refine your narrative to ensure it fits with the job advert and it is inline with the company’s values. You will need to explain why you are applying for the role and why you are applying to the company. The more you understand about the role and the company the more success you will have with the job interview skill.

Step 6: Narrative Example

I am going to give you an a very generic narrative to explain leaving your current job. A narrative need to have more detail and explain your reason. Always remember any narrative you give must be professional and respectful to your current employer.

An example: “I am currently with my company and been there for 10 years. I started out as [your initial role] and now I am [your current role]. Through my time with them I have achieved [list 3 – 5 achievements]. I have come to a point where I feel I have achieved all that I can, and I am looking for another opportunity. When read the job description it meets my needs because I am looking [what is it that you are wanting to do] and I feel [company name] is a good fit for me.”


Answering the job interview question or job application as to why you are leaving your job is not complex. Unlike answer other job interview questions, this question requires you to provide an explanation as to why you are making a job switch and how the job fits into your career plans. Furthermore, it may be an emotional time for you because of the working conditions that brought you to the decision, but your potential employer does not need the emotion. Instead they want to hear from you, in a concise way and professional way, why you are making a job change. This holds true if you are applying for a receptionist job, call centre, supervisor, and senior manager. Finally remember, Exclusive Career Advice is here to work with you to develop your narrative for an interview or application. Please contact us if you have any questions, require a CV review, or you require preparation for an upcoming interview.

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How to Create a Narrative to Answer Any Interview Question
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How to Create a Narrative to Answer Any Interview Question
Preparing for an interview is daunting and to make it worse, it is trying to anticipate possible questions. Make preparing easier by developing a narrative that will help you answer any question that the interview panel will ask you.
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Exclusive Career Advice
Author: admin
Before moving to the United Kingdom, I worked in the U.S.A as a supply teacher who primarily taught math and taught at alternative education sites (e.g. juvenille detention, behaviour classrooms, and sites for students that were court ordered).When I moved to United Kingdom I chose to draw on my adaptive software skills knowledge. Whereby I developed administration and IT skills. Through my hard work I progressed into a senior health care manager role.I have several years experience in interviewing, reviewing applications and managing a team. Drawing on my experiences, I have created this site to help you.

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