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Why did you leave your previous company?

A question that is asked at almost every interview. Many are tempted to lie and even though they were asked to leave or even though they hated the culture they would not dare speak up. Below we will go through some of the more common answers and what they translate to in the interviewers’ mind. We will also give you an alternative view on what should you say so that you ensure the company will be a good fit for you culturally and not seem desperate at the same time.

Retrenched and afraid

In this climate people are losing their jobs more than ever. Being afraid that you might not get the same paycheck, or the bills are racking up. You are going for interviews and when asked this question you are torn between telling the truth or lying. After speaking with some HR professionals, honesty is always appreciated. But do not stop at just answering that you got retrenched. Explain why you were an asset to the company but due to unforeseen circumstances you were asked to leave. Previously we said not to bad mouth about your ex-company this is a slight exception. If your previous company did not give you the right tools or training to execute your job properly you can phrase it nicely saying, “I was not given ample training and time to perform in the role, feedback was given but unfortunately things were the same.” This way you do not look like someone to backstab your ex-company and also you ensure that if this company were to accept you, they have faith that their training program is top notch. Many are lost and flustered when they get retrench and shoot their resume in every direction. Take a step back and evaluate properly.

Hate your ex-company but do not know how to phrase it properly.

There is a saying “people don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses”. Almost always we have some sort of unhappiness that motivate you to look elsewhere but you have been taught to never badmouth your previous company or management. How to phrase your unhappiness? Start by turning those negative points into positive motivation. Your previous company has promised you the promotion or pay raise but never came true. You can then say that the position has been stagnant for quite some time and that you are looking for a bigger challenge. This way you do not go into details of what happened in the past and that you are forward looking. There is no perfect answer look for details to change them into your favor and help you improve your image.

Have a moment of unemployment and do not know how to explain.

At times all we want is to take a break. It could be due to exhaustion or family issues. There are even times when someone needs time to cope with the lost of a close one and the company is unable to allow that kind of break. We are afraid that by saying we voluntarily took a break that we are weak and unable to perform under pressure. Turn this into a plus point for you. Admitting that you are not in the

best position to perform at your job and you do not want to take a salary for underperforming. Instead, you are now a better version of yourself and that you are ready to take on new challenges. The best candidates are the ones that admit that they need a break. There are many instances of people that I have worked with that took breaks to fix their emotions and mental health before coming back. Some even took as long as 2 years break to do some freelance work before rejoining the company, they were the hardest working and top performing individuals.


We do not want to give any template response because everyone will have a different reason. Instead, we want you to learn how to phrase the reason to your benefit and leave a good impression. Before you start attending interviews think of how you want to phrase the answer. Always be honest but jump straight to how that has made you ready for more and that you are the best fit for their company. Watch apology speeches by top government officials. The speech is usually vetted by many PR professionals before it is delivered. They usually start of right away with an apology and they spend less than 2 minute on admitting their mistake and 30 minutes on how they are going to improve the system and how those improvements are going to benefit the people instead. If you have a specific reason do feel free to leave them in the comments and we will try our best to answer them.

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