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Unsure How to Explain Why You Left Your Last Job? Here’s the Perfect Answer.

Unsure How to Explain Why You Left Your Last Job? Here’s the Perfect Answer.

This would be an inevitable question which you can’t ignore at any cost. There can be several reasons why you want to leave your current job or why you had left your previous job – and not all reasons can be rosy.

The most important thing is – are you sure about why you want to leave your job? In many cases, people take whimsical decisions to quit and later regret about leaving a place that could have added more values to their career graph. But if you know that your reasons are sorted enough, then you’ll be more confident in approaching you future/ prospective employer and answer his/ her questions in a more convincing manner.

Try to be honest while responding, because one irrelevant answer can lead to another tricky question. If you are honest and stick to your opinions, you’ll have a better image in the interviewer’s eyes. In today’s world of extreme competition in the job market, know that you are your toughest competitor and only you can surprise yourself.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

When an interviewer asks you this question, it means that he/she wants to understand the degree of your efficiency and commitment that you’ll have towards your work once you be a part of their company.

The interviewer usually tries to find a certain flow in your response, trying to figure out whether his company will get affected in anyway because of you. It is important for him/her to know whether you left your previous job on a good note or not. You can provide the reference of your ex-boss in order to make things simple and smooth – this will easily convince your interviewer that you were not kicked out on some apprehensive note. Did you leave the job because of some personal reason or because you felt you were unappreciated? – If so, then back your reply with proper reasons.

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Express your reasons skillfully and don’t act overconfident. Leave a space for the interviewer to make a positive opinion about you.

To put it more precisely, career expert Duncan Mathison, author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Search When Times are Tough,[1] says that interviewers ask this question to “understand your motives and gain insight as to how [you] handle work relationships.”

How Should You Answer?

I had also left my previous job which wasn’t actually bad – I had a nice work environment with a super cool boss, but the work wasn’t something that really intrigued me. I wanted something else from life – and I had a very clear idea of what I was looking for.

I realized that the cubicle and the desktop with long hours of editing work wasn’t my cup of tea! I wanted to travel and write about places and people – in a way, I wanted to break out of the shackles of editing and give wings to my words that can reach out to millions of people and inspire them in some way or the other, to look deeper into their lives and to set themselves free.

Before I took to the step of resigning, I went for trek to the Himalayas, and amidst that solitude and eerie silence of nature, I fixated my mind and drew the strength of letting go of a well paying stable job in a skyscraper that looked extremely fancy from outside.

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After a sabbatical of 6 months when I explored the mountains and the beaches of India and spend a month in Bhutan, I came across my present company, which at once caught my attention with its volunteer and travel opportunities and aim of touching underprivileged lives in certain corners of the world. Quite evidently, my current boss also threw the question regarding my earlier job – I guess my views about my life and where I see myself to be, convinced him enough to offer me the job.

How A Well-Structured Answer Looks Like and Why It Is Good

Start replying with a similar statement and slowly built your answer on what type of growth you are looking for and what skills you possess to deal with the challenges that might come your way. If you can, then briefly narrate a couple of situations that you’ve tactfully handled at your previous workplace.

“I’ve worked in the company for quite some time, and at this point I was feeling that my growth has stopped. I am looking for something that will help me inculcate some new skills and values.”

Explain about the project that you’ve finished and how it has benefited you company. Slowly drift to the context of role change and what role exactly you are looking for. Do you feel that this company will be able to provide you with what you are seeking? – If yes, then how? Be clear with the answers, so that it doesn’t create any doubt on the interviewer’s mind.

“I wrapped up a very important project for the company and now I feel it is the perfect time for me to step out of the comfort zone and explore something new. I want to shift my job role, and my company doesn’t have a vacancy to offer what I’m looking for.”

Your honesty will surely be appreciated, and if you can demonstrate your skills and competency through your ideas and strategies, then you’ll essentially make a mark on the interviewer’s mind. Admit that you didn’t get a scope you were looking for and you are expecting to get it in this company.

“The company suffered a huge loss and they are planning to fire few of the newly employed staffs. Since I haven’t got a chance to prove myself yet, I am skeptic about my position. Therefore, I’m looking for a better option to put my skills at use, before I get laid off.”

While apparently it might seem very snobbish to quit a job for traveling, but if you know how much your journeys have taught you and what values it added to your life, then you’ll surely be able to convince the interviewer. Also, you can share some experiences that you’ve had while on the go – for example, some volunteering work that you’ve done, some random situation that posed a challenge etc. This will help him/her to know you better and assess your skills and vigor.

“I wanted to take a break and explore my passion of traveling and photography, something I had wished to do since a long time. I wasn’t very confident initially about doing away with a job, but I later realized that if I’m not happy in my shoes, I can’t help the company move forward. So I decided to quit and pursue my passion. Now I feel that my energy had doubled and my journeys have made me stronger than I’ve ever been. I feel I’m ready to work in a much better manner and fetch a win-win level for both your company and myself.”

Not getting proper appreciation can actually suck and your interviewer will be able to understand your point if you can successfully narrate your stance. Express that you are ready to take up challenges for growth and you don’t mind stretching your limits, if that fetches you good results. After all, a little appreciation is something we all deserve.

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“I feel that your company can provide me with better opportunities that I’m looking for. I realized that I wasn’t properly appreciated for the tasks I performed and the opportunity to grow wasn’t available to me in my previous company and that in order to continue to improve myself professionally, it was time to move on.”

Practice Your Answer Until You’re Confident About What You Say

No matter what, this question is difficult to be avoided at a job interview, and it’ll be better if you prepare the answer on your mind and keep repeating it until you are absolutely confident about what you are going to say. Remember that the key to success is to stay honest, clear and positive. Your mannerisms and body language will also compliment what you are saying – so make sure everything is in a sync.

Avoid speaking negatively about your erstwhile employer. Don’t try to make up stories on points that are irrelevant or unbelievable or may sound extremely gibberish to your interviewer.

Even he/she understands that nobody can stick to a job for an entire lifetime, it’s just that your reasons need to be good enough for quitting your previous job and convincing enough that you are the best candidate for the company!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Reference

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Riyanka Roy

Travel Writer and Blogger

Unsure How to Explain Why You Left Your Last Job? Here’s the Perfect Answer. 17 Little Things You Can Do To Be A Better Person in 2017

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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