Some interviewers will ask this question in a more round-about way, and others are much more direct. The point of the inquiry is for the interviewer to understand the circumstances surrounding the exit. Perhaps you were terminated, left without notice, or relocated and could not stay. The interviewer also wants to know that your reason for exiting your role will not happen again with their organization.
You should always have a rehearsed statement that includes an honest and unique reason for every position on your resume. 'The role was no longer a fit' is NOT an answer that will fare well. Neither is a vague reply like, 'There was no room to grow.'
If you do not have a rehearsed answer, you are at risk for speaking too long, too much and saying something that you will regret later. It's amazing what might come out of your mouth when you are nervous! Keep your answer neutral, never speak poorly of anyone, and end your response on a positive note.
"I left my last job once our Director announced that he would be selling the company. I truly joined the organization to learn from him, which I was able to do for the past five years. I did leave without another position lined up only because I had not taken a vacation in almost three years. I spent the summer in Italy with my family and am now ready to enter the workforce again."
"My most recent company went through a merger this year, and unfortunately I fell victim in the third round of layoffs. I had obviously hoped to have made it through the layoff phase; however, I believe this layoff means that there is something bigger and better out there for me. I hope to find that great long-term opportunity with your esteemed organization."
"Jumping from position to position is certainly not my forte, so it was a very challenging decision to leave my role after just a few months, without a new one in the works. The owner of the agency itself was a very nice person; however, the way the company operated was simply not for me. I would get phone calls from clients at all hours and had zero balance when it came to my personal life. I did a gut-check and knew that I could not keep up the pace and maintain my values at the same time. I have picked up some freelance marketing work in the meantime to supplement my income."
"I left my previous position after a falling out with my Regional Director. She was terminating staff across the country, without reason, and not in compliance with HR policy and best practices. I decided that it was in my better interest to distance myself from the situation than to stay. I realize that I left without another job, but maintaining my integrity means everything to me."
"I left my most recent job because the company was in dire financial trouble - you may have seen it in the news. I decided to be packaged out rather than stay with the sinking ship. Since then I have done some travel and have put out a few applications; although I am very choosy where I end up next."
"Relocation is my reason for leaving my previous teaching job. My wife transferred here for work, and I did not want for us to travel back and forth every weekend. I finished out the school year, of course. I am new to this great city and am very excited about the opportunities present, as well as the chance to become a solid fixture in this community."
"I left my last job because of downsizing within my clinic. I valued the time that I had there but know that everything happens for a reason."
"I chose to leave my last job for a job with better hours that would allow me to spend more time with my family"
"I was ready to take on a new challenge,"
"I chose to leave my last job for an opportunity with better hours. I needed to spend more evenings with my children. I'm proud of myself for recognizing that need and am excited about what's to come!"
"I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me."
"My last role was in a retail clothing establishment. In my previous role, I enjoyed building relationships with customers and making the shopping experience memorable with a personal touch. While fashion is fun, I value surrounding myself with like-minded people. As a lover of books, this place speaks to me like home."
"In my last position there were some difficulties between myself and a paralegal. I felt she was not working in an ethical manner and brought it to my supervisors' attention. Because she was the more senior paralegal, I was asked to step down from my role due to our inability to collaborate effectively. The lawyer I supported is willing to be a positive reference regarding my work abilities."
"My last position was seasonal and I understood that I would not have a job come winter. I had just relocated to the city and needed a new position. I am now seeking a permanent opportunity with a company that can offer me year-round work."