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  • Matt Spencer

How to answer: “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?” Interview Tips | Africa Jobs

Interview Tips: The Secret to Answering “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”


“Why did you leave your last job?” This question is probably the most important question that you will encounter in an interview and is the cause of the most stress caused in many candidates – even the most confident.

NB: The question is asked to establish what it is about the position or company that attracts you; or what about your current position or company that’s pushing you away.

Here’s a painless guideline on how to answer this question:

Be Honest

Are you looking for a new challenge?

  1. If you have been at your company for a number of years and your scope for growth has reached its ceiling; or if your job no longer stimulates you and there are no alternative options within your current company, then say so.

Do you have a ‘black mark’ on your employment record? (Termination of employment, workplace conflict, etc.):

  1. Disclose this kind of information to your Agent.

  2. It is advisable to discuss with your Recruitment Agent first as they know their client and they would be able to advise you on how exactly to broach the topic when answering in the interview.

  3. There are many companies who are willing to overlook mistakes if you admit to them and prove that you’ve grown from that mistake.


It is important to keep in mind that recruitment companies have large networks and are constantly in touch with their clients, who are often multinational companies. They build strong relations with contacts globally and as such, especially specialist Recruitment Agents who focus on industry-specific jobs, know the who’s who in the market. Word gets around and if you build a bad career reputation in your industry, it may catch up to you by getting to your Recruitment Agent’s ears.

Background checks are performed by all recruitment agencies worth their salt, on all candidates appointed for clients.

These include:

  1. Criminal checks

  2. Credit checks

  3. Qualification checks

  4. Reference Checks

If you have anything against you in your career that might influence the prospective employer’s decision to appoint you and you did not disclose it before your Recruitment Agent finds out through any of the background checks conducted, then your Recruitment Agent will not trust you!

Keep in mind that your Recruitment Agent will be able to bring anything of concern up, with their client, your prospective employer, and will be able to explain your side of the story.

Keep it Positive and brief

This is very important: Under no circumstances should you badmouth your current (or previous) company or Line Manager in an interview!

Even if your Line Manager is actively making life difficult for you, do not rant negatively about them!

Not to mention the fact that the interviewer (again, your prospective employer) will gain insight into how you describe your current employer. If you badmouth your current boss, then there’s nothing stopping the Interviewer from wondering whether this is how you would describe them as an employer…

A good response would be to instead say that the job was not a good fit and support your answer with career-related reasons.

Emphasise the New Job

To conclude your response, express your interest in the current job by highlight the duties that attracts you to it.

The interview is designed to gain insight into not only your experience and qualifications, but also a chance to see a bit about your personality. The interviewer has set aside about 30 – 45+ minutes to speak to you about you, so showcase yourself as best you can. You’ve made it past the initial screening so now the prospective employer wants to see that you are the person you say you are on paper!


Let me know if you have any other interview tips that you are struggling with.

Follow me on Twitter: @AfricaPRFowzi

Good luck!

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