If you’ve ever quit a job, you know how stressful it can be.
You had to tell your former boss why you were leaving.
Perhaps you had to prepare your replacement for taking over your job.
Even more stressful, however, can be worrying about explaining why you quit hiring managers in your subsequent interviews.
Whether or not you’re asked why you quit a job directly, it’s crucial to bring up why you left your role either way. If you don’t mention your reasons for leaving, your interviewer might believe you have something to hide.
Why do hiring managers want to know the answer to this question?
“An interviewer likely asks this question to assess their level of risk in taking you on as an employee. They want to know if you left your previous job for a good reason, if you left on good terms, and what your level of commitment is to your work,” said Jennifer Parris of FlexJobs.
So, regardless of the circumstances that led you to your resignation, here’s how to put a positive spin on quitting a job.
✅ Tell the interviewer the truth.
If you’re uncomfortable about your work history, you may be tempted to lie or avoid discussing it at all costs.
You should aim to work an explanation about your past resignation into your answers as early in the interview as possible. This way, you won’t have your worries about answering this question hanging over your head the whole time.
And, like in most scenarios, honesty is the best policy here.
“Lying is like a forest fire; it spreads, with one lie leading to another and another. There is a chance that your potential employer will find out about the lie — and no one wants to hire a dishonest candidate,” notes Melissa Ricker for TopResume.
✅ Explain to your interviewer that you were no longer being challenged in your last position.
One of the instances where you likely left on good terms is if you simply advanced too far for your previous position.
Perhaps you’d worked in the role for several years and had learned everything the position had to teach you. Maybe you wished you could have advanced at the company, but they had no roles open to which you could apply.
Make sure you discuss what you learned in your previous role and how you’d like to advance in the one you’re interviewing for. Discussing how you grew in the job you quit makes you seem dedicated and motivated rather than cocky.
✅ Tell them that you have a personal issue you need to take care of.
Another situation that employers understand is if you quit a previous job to take care of a friend, family member, or yourself.
More and more employees take time off to care for a sick person or spend more time with their young children.
You shouldn’t be ashamed of this decision, and if this is why you resigned, tell the interviewer. At the same time, mention the volunteer work and education you undertook during your sabbatical, making you seem active in the field while you were away rather than completely disengaged.
Or perhaps it was you who needed time off to care for yourself in one way or another. Feel free to tell this to your interviewer, as well as mention that you feel ready to advance your career.
✅ Let them know that you were overworked in your last role – but don’t bash your previous workplace.
One of the trickier reasons to quit a job being overworked in a position is a common reason for employees to quit.
You can obliquely mention your reason for quitting without saying anything negative about the company. Instead, talk about how excited you are to find a position that supports a better work/life balance.
In this scenario, how can you put a positive spin on quitting a job?
For instance, say:
“I loved my previous position, but everyone at the company worked long hours, so I did too. After I got burnt out, I told my supervisor that I was resigning to focus on my self-care and interests outside of the office. This was also one of the reasons I was excited to interview for a position with you. I know that you have many policies that help employees maintain balance in their lives.”
✅ Articulate that you were looking for a workplace that better fits your values.
One of the reasons many employees quit during the Great Resignation was they felt they weren’t supporting their personal missions.
Instead, they recognized the mismatch between the company’s fundamental tenets and their own values.
If this happened to you, explain the issue to your interviewer. This can be a particularly powerful response if you then discuss how the company you’re interviewing with does fit your values.
For instance, you could say:
“I learned so much in my last position. However, I am passionate about sustainable practices, which wasn’t my last organization’s priority. After I resigned from that role, I started looking for roles that would let me support my personal mission in my job. That goal led me to your organization and this position.”
Putting a Positive Spin on Quitting a Job
If you’re looking for a new job, you might worry that you won’t advance in an interview if you tell them you quit your last job.
But being honest and straightforward as quickly as possible lets you move on from your resignation to discussing other skills and qualifications. If you don’t directly address this issue, on the other hand, it might hang over your head and make you less successful in the interview.
What if you didn’t quit, but your previous position was eliminated? Here’s what to say if asked about an eliminated position in an interview.