There are a variety of reasons why people quit or lose their job. And talking about it isn’t always easy.
If the departure wasn’t on good terms, answering the question “Why did you leave your previous position?” can be particularly difficult.
For cancer patients and survivors whose departure was in some way related to their diagnosis, formulating a response to this question can be even harder. But the fact is it’s a legitimate (and common) question for a potential employer to ask, so you should be prepared to answer it.
Whether you chose to leave your former job because treatment side effects made it tough for you to handle your responsibilities, or you feel you were unfairly let go as a result of having cancer, you need to be able to respond without hindering your chances of getting hired.
An article on Idealist’s website has several suggestions for how to craft an appropriate answer. We’ve highlighted some of them, below:
- Control your emotions and don’t bring up personal issues: Maintain your composure and professionalism when answering why you left, and keep the interviewer focused how your skills and abilities will benefit the organization.
- Don’t speak negatively about your former boss: Not only does venting your frustrations make you look unprofessional, it will raise concerns that you may not be able to develop a good working relationship with your new boss.
- Keep calm and swivel! Don’t dwell on your negative employment experiences. Instead, swivel or steer the conversation to something positive by sharing what you learned and how you grew from that difficult situation. Talking about how you recovered from the problems you encountered in your last job may resonate well with recruiters.
Keep in mind that if you left on poor terms, you should not use your former employer as a reference. Instead, select someone who can speak highly of your strengths and work ethic. Further, choose your words carefully and be diplomatic when talking about why you left. The goal is to speak with a positive attitude and maintain the recruiter’s interest in hiring you.
To learn more about how to steer conversations in a positive direction, read “The Swivel,” in the Looking for Work section of our website, or download or order our free Job Search Toolkit by clicking here.