You see the warning signs that it is time to leave your job. For a while, you rationalise your reason for staying (e.g. pandemic, the economy, no one is hiring) with the hope your feelings will change. However, your feelings do not change and you finally decide to begin applying for a new job. Now, your rationalising changes and you worry about how to explain your departure in an interview. Leaving you to feel no one will hire you.
In this article, I will go through what you need to include in your answer about leaving your job and what you need to avoid.
Developing your narrative
The key for answering, “why did you leave your last job,” is having a narrative. A narrative is your story. It is the story you want the interviewers 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 your narrative is understanding your journey
To switch jobs, you will need to understand your journey and why did you leave. 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: 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? Simply put look at the positives and look at your contributions.
Third step: edit
This first two steps looks at your overall journey. Talking in detail about why you want to leave, probably will exceed the length of the interview. Instead, begin looking at creating your story. A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In order to keep a story interesting you need some tension, with some success and resolution. Draw from your success and your journey to leave. Begin drafting your story.
Fourth step: Look at your narrative from the perspective of the interviewer
An interviewer does not want to hear negativity and does not want to hear about needless conflict. Instead the interviewer wants to hear about your success, what you learnt, and how you can help them. Using your narrative, your story, will bring the interviewer into your world, show them your successes and what you learnt from the experience. Anything negative you should reframe it and where possible, speak about what you learnt from the experience.
Step 5: Review the job description and research the company
This stage is versitle. You can do it as you prepare your narrative or use this stage to help you further refine it. I tend to prefer to use this stage at the end, since your narrative is generic and the stage helps you to refine it for the interview. By this stage you understand your reason for leaving along with considering how others can perceive it. 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: Practice your narrative
Reherse your narrative. Listen to you saying it out loud and have someone that you trust, listen to you presenting your narrative. Only by hearing it and receiving some feedback will you be able to get your story right.
Step 7: Example narrative
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 to receive professional help in develping your story.