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Today’s HR question:

“I left my job after only 4 months. There are two reasons for leaving. The first, I was adjusting to a ‘new chapter’ in my life…recently divorced and jumping back into the job market…and now working the night-shift in a 24/7 medical facility. I realized I was unable to balance work/life with these hours and decided it was time to start looking for something else that afforded me more time at home. The second, dealing with unethical behavior by senior staff. I was the newbie, so making claims against those more senior than me…well, it made me afraid of the consequences. So, I quit. Now that I’m looking for a new job, I’ve been asked why I left the previous job. What should I say? Do I talk about my personal struggles or the ethical issues?”

Many times, we’re afraid to tell the truth…to be honest in our job interviews. Afraid we’re going to scare off a potential employer. And if you’re desperate for work? Well, you may become too talkative and share TOO much…digging yourself into a hole. The best way to avoid sharing too much, while being honest at the same time? Frame your answers in a positive way, by sticking to your related experience.

Personal stories are great ways to connect and form relationships…find common ground. However, if you’re applying for a demanding role with crazy hours and no flexibility, you should probably veer away from “I needed an adjustment period and was looking for work/life balance.” The interviewer may be able to relate to your personal situation, but their job is to find the right person for the role…and your personal story might strike that feeling of doubt…that maybe you’re just not up for the challenge, even though you are! Save those personal stories for your friends and family.

Sharing negative information about your previous employer…NOT the best choice in relaying why you left a job. It’s so easy to get caught up in “conversation” with the interviewer and share all kinds of information that’s not relevant to the job. Especially if they’re good at what they do.  Let’s face it…good recruiters are good at weeding out the so-so from the BEST talent.  They put you at ease, are conversational and share their own stories (positive or negative), hoping to form that “instant relationship” with you. The recruiter may seem to be friendly and happy to help (and most are!) but remember, their goal is to find the best hire…not to become your personal career coach.

The best approach to this question: “I enjoyed my role very much. It provided great challenges and opportunities for learning and growth. However, the patient care did not measure to my own standards so, I decided to find a new employer that places a similar value on patient care.”  This measured response provides a positive tone and sticks to the facts, while avoiding negativity and employer bashing. It also allows the interviewer insight into your personal integrity and ability to be tactful in even the stickiest of situations.

A job interview is not “coffee with a friend” so keep on topic and share the highlights of your experiences.

Let me know if you have something else to add…would love to hear your thoughts!


Photo Credit: http://notesonlooking.com/2012/08/corrina-peipon-artist-and-hammer-curator-on-the-conversation/i-quit-corrina-peipon/