Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

new-jobAuthor: Alexis Perrotta
Source: Idealist Careers

No matter why you left your last job (or why you’re planning to leave your current job), the most important thing to remember when answering this question in an interview is, stay positive.

Below, you’ll find a few general categories that your response to this particular question may fall into, and based on that, further advice on how to answer in an honest, productive, and positive way.

You left your last job because of work-related issues

There are plenty of reasons why you may have left your last job. Perhaps you’re escaping a toxic workplace, you no longer feel connected to the mission of the organization, or you feel that you’ve plateaued professionally.

To answer this question in a positive way while also staying true to yourself, take the opportunity to highlight your professional needs (and how they went unmet at your previous job) without getting caught up in the specifics. Here is an example of what you could say:

“Communication is incredibly important to me and while I really enjoyed my last job, after [X YEARS], the quality of communication with my former supervisor was never quite what I wanted it to be.”

Once you have broached the subject, be prepared for a follow-up question; a good interviewer will go after some details. If you left your last job only after trying to address the issue that led to your ultimate resignation, highlight that in your follow-up. This is a great chance to show your interviewer that while you may have been dissatisfied, you didn’t throw in the towel too soon, nor were you complacent.

For example:

“The biggest pain point was communication between me and my supervisor. While I did try to address the issue by scheduling a formal meeting and suggesting a new weekly check-in format for us as well as inviting his feedback on how I can improve my own communication style, it didn’t improve. Ideally, I would like to have a mentor and a champion in my supervisor. I decided that for me, the issue was a dealbreaker.”

Pro Tip: Not only should you strive for honesty and authenticity in your interview because it’s the right thing to do, it’s also in your best interest. You should take every reasonable opportunity to truthfully represent what you’re looking for in a job, a team, and an organization.

You left your last job because of personal issues

If something came up in your personal life that made your last job untenable—schedule change, relocation, illness, or an ill relative—be honest. You don’t want to hide the truth until the 11th hour only to learn that whatever obstacle caused you to leave your last job—no remote work, inflexible hours, etc.—is also an issue at this new job.

In addition to honesty, it’s important that you make a connection to the organization. After all, if an interviewer asks, “Why do you want to work here?” you wouldn’t say, “To pay my bills.” Similarly, when an interviewer asks, “Why are you looking for a new job?” you don’t want to answer, “Because I hate my commute.” Instead, remember to speak to the specific job or organization. Here’s an example of what you could say:

“Later this year, I’ll be moving further from the city. While I really love the work and the mission, after [X YEARS] at my last job, I decided that I needed to find something that I love just as much, but that doesn’t require such a grueling commute. While it was bittersweet to leave, I’m also looking at my move as a great opportunity to connect with a new mission and reenergize my interest in, and commitment to the sector.”

In other words, you don’t want to say that you’re looking for a new job strictly for the sake of convenience. Don’t forget to let the interviewer know that you’re interested in this specific job.

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Women Supporting Women

supporting-women-at-work-lean-inAuthor: Jessica Miller-Merrell
Source: Workology

In recognition of International Women’s Day earlier last month, I wanted to talk about how to deal with women at work who seem to want to tear each other down instead of building each other up. Personally, I had the unfortunate experience of working with a woman who was a badass. There was no question that she worked hard, however, she was so passive-aggressive with other women that it was hard to get anything done and the environment felt quite hostile.

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How to Build and Maintain Your Network

networkingAuthor: Kat
Source: Corporette

This is kind of an abstract post, so I’ll ask some questions up front for you to think about as you read over it — what are your best professional networking tips, particularly regarding how to build your network, and then how to maintain a network? Which networks, associations and affiliations have been the most fruitful and the most enjoyable for you? Have you seen a lot of overlap and “lucky coincidences” between your various networks, associations and affiliations? 

I’ve been thinking about different business relationships you have to cultivate over the course of your career, from people in your network to mentors to sponsors and beyond. When I was younger, if you had asked me about “how to build your network,” I might have defined it as very self-focused. You choose who you want to bring into your orbit and keep them there — people who are handpicked for knowledge or skill or experience as it relates to you.

This version of “how to network” might be represented visually like this:

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What To Do If Your Job Is Killing You

killingjobAuthor: Stav Ziv
Source: The Muse

If Jeffrey Pfeffer had to sum up his latest book in one sentence, he’d say that “the workplace is killing us and nobody cares.” Take a minute, because that’s quite a summary.

You should care, obviously. Employees, employers, governments, and societies all suffer from the effects of toxic work environments.

“If I work you to a point where you’re so sick physically or psychologically you can no longer work…you become the public’s problem,” says Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business whose research has focused on organization theory and human resource management. Companies are squandering money via medical costs, lost productivity, and high turnover, and governments and societies have to deal with the long-term consequences and costs to the public health and welfare systems.

In the U.S., 120,000 deaths a year could be attributed to work environments, according to Pfeffer’s book, Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It, racking up about $180 billion in health-care costs. He estimates that about half the deaths and a third of the costs could be prevented.

So once you know and care, what can you do to fight back?

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How to Gauge a Company’s Culture in an Interview

Young People Work In Modern Office

Author: Emily Lamia
Source: Idealist Careers

Culture. It’s a big word. But what does it really mean?

We seem to know how to identify bad organizational culture: constant stress, unreasonable workloads, and passive aggressive or mean people. But aside from unlimited snacks, casual Fridays, and a summer picnic, what goes into determining how to define positive organizational culture?

The truth is, everyone’s version of a positive culture is different. This is why it’s important to have your own definition of what a good culture looks like to you in order to truly thrive in your social-impact career.

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What You Should (Realistically) Do When You Make a Mistake On Your Job Application

mistakeAuthor: Alyse Kalish
Source: The Muse

You spelled the hiring manager’s name wrong on your cover letter. There’s a weird formatting issue on your interview assignment. You sent an older version of your resume that included blah, blah, blah under one of the titles.

Is all hope lost? Should you pack it in and give up, because you’re never landing that job?

Definitely not. In fact, there’s a simple way you can recover from your mistake and easily put yourself back in the running. Here’s how:

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You Don’t Have to Dread Work on Monday Mornings!

mondaysFor those who dread going to work on Monday morning, you’re not alone. But, according to Ciara Conlon, you can do something about it.

Author: Ciara Conlon
Source: SiliconRepublic

Are you one of those people who hates Mondays? Do you feel the dread seeping in on Sunday evening when you know you should check to make sure you have clean clothes, something for lunch and your game face at the ready?

For many people, Mondays are not their favourite day of the week, to say the least. Mondays represent ideas of detention, or being grounded for being cheeky to your mother.

But we all have 52 of these unloved days each year so, ideally, we need to learn to love them (or at least make the most of them).

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