May 21, 2018

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Describing the Reasons You're Looking

The following article provides key strategies for responding to one of the most frequently asked interviewer questions "Why did you leave (or seeking to leave) your company?"

Be Succinct

Describe the reason for your departure directly and succinctly. Do not go into great details unless they ask you for the details. The longer you speak on the subject the more suspicious the interviewer will become. For example: When first asked why he left his former company Bart could succinctly state "My company merged with another firm and the new management wanted to bring in their own team. Prior to the merger I was a strong performer with positive performance reviews."

Provide References

You could then say that you will be happy to provide references from a former colleague and boss to verify your performance. Demonstrating a confidence and willingness to provide references to support your reasons for leaving is a powerful way to ensure you are believed.

State the Facts

If you are questioned further about the details, stay with the facts of what happened, what you did, how you felt and what you learned. Interviewers want to know that you were not the problem and to understand how you handled yourself. Don't just state the circumstances of your departure; also add any facts that positively reflect on your performance.

What Did You Learn

This is also an opportunity to describe what you learned and how you will handle things differently in the future. Describing what you learned demonstrates that you are a life-long learner and you look on the positive side of most scenarios.

Speak Positively

State the facts in a positive manner. Any negativity you express will only reflect negatively on you. If you're angry about the situation, you'll need to process that anger in another manner before you interview. Throwing light bulbs at the basement wall or hitting a punching bag might work. The interview is the last place to express anger about anything.

Look them in the Eye

Most of us instinctively sense deception. Look the interviewer in the eyes when responding. This will convey your confidence, communicate that this is the truth and that you have nothing to hide.

Practice and Conquer Your Fear

Write out your response and practice saying it. First, practice responding out loud to yourself and then practice saying it to another person. Ask a friend to practice interview you. Ask them to ask you this question ("Why did you leave your last company?) and a couple other questions you fear most. Practice until you are comfortable with the words you say and how you deliver them.

- Michael Neece

CEO, Interview Mastery

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