“Why Did You Leave Your Last Employer?” – Dos and Don’ts in Answering this Question

Posted On: October 9, 2015

Tips for Interviewing with US Employers

If your American interviewer asks any of the following questions: 

  1. Why do you want to work here (with us)?
  2. Why did you leave your last employer?
  3. Why did you join your current employer?

DO –

  • Focus on reasons that highlight professional GROWTH
  • Discuss how the move helps you to accomplish your career GOALS
  • Phrase your words with a positive tone
  • Say your words with a positive tone
  • Put yourself in the recruiter’s or interviewer’s shoes while answering this question. If you were the one interviewing for this position, what would you want to hear? What would convince you, professionally speaking, to hire yourself? Start wording your answer from that point of view.  


  • Mention anything like:
    “My brother/wife/sister works here.”
    “This is the biggest company in [Kerala].”
    “I heard this is a good company to work for.” (Unless you have some research to quote to back it up.)
    “My college referred me here.”
    If you DO want to mention a referral, give a compelling professional reason for the referral, and don’t mention personal or family connections.
  • Talk about having had bad experiences with colleagues or clients as a reason for leaving
  • Share personal or family reasons for moving. Personal questions like this are illegal in the US. It’s illegal for them to ask you these questions, and interviewees should not volunteer such information. Stick to professional topics of discussion.

Note: In India, telling an employer that you want to work in XYZ company close to your home town can be a positive thing, because it points to retention. In the US, no one cares about this (very rarely do people care, and not in the interview). So, while in some cases in India, this can be used to positively influence the recruiter to hire you (among talking about professional reasons), these family/personal reasons will not achieve any positive results with American recruiters.

Feel free to share some of your successful answers to these questions in the comment section below.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, prepares Indians for interviews with their onsite clients. Build your confidence talking with Americans, contact Jennifer today.

Related Posts: 
Tell me about yourself – How to answer this question
How to talk about your accomplishments in American interviews
Helping NRIs settle and find work in the US  

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash


Find your Program!

Find your ideal program in just a few clicks.
Select Industry > Learning Level > Skill, to see 1-3 suggested programs.