For job seekers, the interview is an indication of how well you carry yourself.
Preparation is essential, to anticipate some of what will be asked in the interview by an employer or hiring manager.
This is not to recommend a candidate should appear so rehearsed that answers sound canned, hollow and lack sincerity. It is just that there always should be a reasonably clear response to the most frequently asked interviewer questions.
The single interview question that seems to mix people up is, “Why did you leave (or are looking to leave) your previous employer?”
Seven tips to help you avoid tripping over yourself, so you can give the interviewer a complete, reasonable answer:
Describe the reason for your departure quickly and succinctly. Do not go into details unless asked. The more you reflect on the subject the more uncertain the interviewer will get. Asked why you left your former company you could mention briefly, “The company merged with a larger firm. New owners wanted to move in their own team. Up to that point, I was an excellent performer with several positive performance reviews.”
Next, say that you are ready to provide references from a former supervisor or colleague to validate your performance. Be confident and willing to provide references to support the reasons you left; it will be the best way for the interviewer to understand your side of the story.
Just the Facts
When pressed further for details, stick with the facts. State what happened, what you did, how you felt about it and the lessons you learned. Interviewers just want to know that you were not the problem and see how you handled yourself. Do not only tell the circumstances of your leaving, include facts that will reflect positively on your performance.
Did You Learn Anything?
Use this opportunity to describe what you had learned in the interim, and how the event will help you in the future. Talking about what you learned confirms that you value learning from experiences, and have a positive feelings in most circumstances.
When stating facts, always be positive. Negativity will only make you look unprofessional. If the situation makes you angry, resolve it before the interview. Exercise, go for a run, take your aggression out on a punching bag—anything to release your anger at the situation. Just don’t do it at the interview.
Look the Interviewer in the Eye
People can feel a deceit from a mile away. When responding, always look the interviewer in the eyes. This confidence says that you truthful, with nothing to hide.
Conquer Your Fears With Practice
Write out your answer and practice saying it. Begin by rehearsing your responses aloud, and then read it to someone else. Ask a friend to interview you for training. Have them focus on the question (“so, why did you leave the so-and-so company?”), as well as the other questions that worry you the most. Keep on it until you are happy with your answers, as well as the way you give them. When the time comes, you can beat your fears and demonstrate that you are perfect for the job.
Do you have any other ways to handle a tough interview question? We would love to know! Join the conversation in the comments below.