The Graduate Series: The interview

Shannon Taylor, Contributing Writer

“So why did you leave your previous job?” or “Why did you get fired or laid off?” This is a tricky one. If you answer it the way you think your future employer would want, you feel like you’re lying, but if you answer it with your true feelings, it might go south pretty quickly—losing you the job. So how do you answer and still stay in the clear with your potential boss?

Don’t badmouth your previous boss. It looks bad to your future employer—the more you talk bad about your boss, the more they start to wonder if you would do the same thing to them later on. Put your hurt or angry feelings aside.

Stay positive. Be optimistic about moving forward from your previous job. Don’t count all the things that were wrong with your last job. “I wasn’t being challenged at my last job” means the same thing but is much more compelling than “It was boring and I hated it.”

Honesty is the best policy. Lying right off the bat is not going to get you very far. If things got ugly when you left your last position, say something along the lines of “We didn’t mesh well.” Honest, without having to go into much detail.

Don’t ramble. Just two to three sentences should keep you in the clear. The more you ramble on and add random statements, the more tedious the conversation becomes.

Be direct and focus on your future. You need to have a forward-thinking mindset. Yes, they want you to answer the question, but they really want to hear what you can do for them. Do you think this new job will help you learn valuable skills or grow as a professional?

Make them remember you. Highlight your strengths. You need to leave an impression that will stick out in their mind when you leave their office.

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