Best answers to “why did you leave your last job?”
June 25, 2022

The 5 Best Answers to “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

“Why did you leave your last job?” is likely one of the interview questions that interviewees dread the most. But why? Shouldn’t it be easy to answer? After all, there are only so many answers you can give. Plus, you know why you left.

The reason it’s so “scary” is that when interviewees are asked this, they often know it’s not what they say that matters, but how they say it. And when you’re already nervous, this question can feel like a trap.

Luckily for you, as accounting recruiters in Ontario, we’ve asked this question countless times, and have heard every answer under the sun. Keep reading for the top 5 replies to this tricky question, and pointers on how to present them.

1. Looking for better career prospects

There’s not much sense in working a job that doesn’t serve you or your future plans. Many employees wouldn’t hesitate to switch to another company if it looked like a better fit. 

Even without the promise of promotion, switching roles to a position that could potentially help advance their future is tempting to many workers. 

We only have one life, so who can blame you for wanting to work in a position that fulfils your needs? It’s possible that you’ve learned all your previous role had to teach, and you’re hungry to learn more. 

Maybe you woke up and decided to pursue an unrealized passion.

Remember that the actual reason won’t matter to recruiters if you present it correctly. 

Tone of voice: Decided

The key here is to sound sure. The last thing you want is for a potential employer to think you’re “flighty” or unreliable. 

Presenting yourself as an employee-focused on consistent personal development is a much better angle. Don’t be afraid to give specific examples of how you think this new role aligns with your goals. 

Example: “In my previous role, during the last few months, I felt that my work was deviating from the path that would help me achieve my future aspirations.”

2. Better work-life balance

With the ongoing pandemic forcing many people to work remotely for the past few years, employees have had to restructure their day-to-day lives. As the pandemic affected everyone, recruiters can definitely empathize. 

Even with pandemic restrictions lifting worldwide, many employees are electing to work from home. How we live has changed significantly in the past three years. 

It’s unlikely life will ever be like it was pre-COVID-19, so why would workers return to how they worked before?

When given the option between completely remote, hybrid, and entirely onsite work, which do you think employees choose? 

Studies have shown that the hybrid model is the most popular globally. Give this answer with confidence; you are definitely not alone. 

Tone of voice: Direct

Keep in mind that there are many different ways to achieve a work-life balance.  Shorter work weeks, flexible hours, and remote work are just a few. 

Being direct shows employers that you know the conditions that allow you to produce your best work.

Example: “The pandemic has reminded me of how unpredictable life is. Working remotely allows me to balance my responsibilities amid uncertainty, which has become a top priority for me.”

3. Business reorganization or restructuring

Mergers, buyouts, divestiture and other restructuring strategies are normal in the corporate world. Small businesses are also reorganizing more frequently to remain financially healthy during the pandemic.  

Restructuring can mean new dynamics, office politics and, no matter the company’s size, cutbacks. 

Many companies will lay off employees in times of economic hardship to give them time to recover financially. Worker morale and productivity will likely decrease with fewer employees.

Tone of voice: Understanding

It’s easy to sound bitter or talk negatively about a previous employer when restructuring has forced you to seek new employment, especially if you had been an employee for a long time. 

However, try to convey why the new structure didn’t work for you. Give specific examples of changes, and highlight that you remained open-minded for the business’s good.

Example: “I understood that while my previous company was undergoing restructuring, they would sometimes be unable to meet the needs of workers despite management’s best efforts.”

4. Relocation

It’s easy to see how relocation could force someone to find new employment. For instance, commuting for more than an hour is too much for most. 

Compared to other metropolitan cities in North America like New York or Montreal, Toronto has the longest average commute time

The convenience of being closer to work can be a great reason to switch jobs. 

Tone of voice: Informative 

The goal here is to explain your decision to move thoroughly. 

Relocation is a big life decision, so interviewers will want to get in your head to understand why you did it. Don’t forget to explain how skills from your last position will benefit this new one. 

Example: “I recently moved back to the city to be closer to my parents, who are getting older. When I heard about this opening, I felt confident relocating because…”

5. Issues with colleagues

We’ve all had to work with coworkers that we find unpleasant. Maybe your team members didn’t pull their weight. Perhaps it was a boss who was constantly breathing down your neck.

If your colleagues are a barrier to you working effectively, then leaving could be beneficial. 

If management issues led to you being fired, it’s best not to lie. Sometimes, workers are fired for things outside of their control. 

Tone of voice: Neutral

The tone for this one is challenging. Your interviewer will be listening for clues, as perhaps you’ll face the same issues on a new team. 

For example, an accounting recruiter in Ontario may not be keen on recommending you for work with clients if you don’t seem like a team player. 

Illustrate that you’ve grown as a professional, and learned from past experiences. Remember that you may be seen as unprofessional for bad-mouthing ex-coworkers. 

Example: “Consistent miscommunication between my colleagues and I made getting work done problematic. At the time, I was unaware of how I was contributing to the issue. Since taking courses on effective communication, though, I’ve learned how to reduce these incidents going forward.”

Ready for your interview?

We know that interviews can be challenging because that’s what we do! For more information on how to prepare, call AHK Accounting Recruiters at 833-399-1663 or click here to email us!

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