How to Answer this Important Interview Question

Being asked why you left your last employer is one of the most common questions that interviewers will use to shortlist candidates for healthcare sales careers. Jack Welch, the former GE President, often said if he were only able to ask one question of a candidate, this would be the question.  Before you go to your next interview, you should prepare a strategy for this question. Don’t overthink it though; coming up with the perfect answer isn’t the point. It’s just as important to focus on what not to say when asked about your previous job. Here’s how to answer this important interview question; including what not to say along with some positive options.


Refrain From Negativity

If you have grievances concerning any of your former supervisors or companies, don’t share them during an interview with a prospective employer no matter how comfortable you may feel with the interviewer. Expressing negativity toward former employers only makes you look bad and diminishes your chance of landing the job. It’s best to show gratitude for the opportunity you had at your last job and show the resignation in a positive light.


Unprofessional Comments

Whether you were underpaid, or just plain burned out, now is not the time to share those details. Don’t get too personal with this question. Some interviewers might even tempt you into talking trash about a former boss. Let’s face it, we all have some complaints about former bosses, but don’t be lured down the road of expressing them in your interview. Stay on course by giving honest, positive, and professional answers. Focus on “the positive of why you are moving forward” versus anything negative you are leaving behind.


Developing the Best Response

You don’t have to fear questions like this since there are a variety of legitimate reasons for leaving a job. Perhaps you even left your last diagnostic sales job because you wanted to advance your career, or you needed a better work-life balance. Maybe the company was downsizing and eliminated a division or product line. Create an honest answer based on your particular circumstances. The point is, to be honest, to frame the answer around you and your needs, not the former employer. Always remain positive. Providing concise answers that highlight some of your past achievements will help you from taking a negative turn during your answer. You could mention that you were thankful for your last position where you were able to achieve XYZ and you’re ready for new challenges and responsibilities that selling innovative products will provide.

Our last piece of advice is to practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable with your response. If necessary, script your response before you even try it out in front of the mirror! Your response will fall into place if you focus on staying positive and honest. Hiring managers can usually pick up on things if you’re trying to hide something. Don’t be that candidate with a chip on your shoulder when discussing former employers; and always avoid getting too personal during your interview. Remember, focus on the positives of going forward versus any “negatives” you’ve left in the rearview mirror and it will maximize your chances for success in the interview.



Interview Questions
SuccessA Recruiting Success Story: Building Momentum in the Marketplace
Keep a Work DiaryKeep a Work Diary: You’ll Be Glad You Did