Putting a positive spin on why you’ve left your previous agency

You’re looking for a new job. This could be for any number of reasons, but here’s the top line: you don’t want to be in your current company anymore. It could be the simple stuff: location, hours, industry…or it could be the people you work with, the management system, the ethics (or lack of). Regardless, you want out and so you’re seeing what else is out there for you.

In this situation, when going to interview with a potential new employer it’s best to plan how you answer the “why you’re leaving your current company” question.

It’s quite normal for your interviewer to ask why you’re choosing to move. Here, be very careful to make sure that you don’t bad-mouth your current or previous employer! It’s an easy trap to fall into – talking about why you want to work with a new company is only a small jump from saying why you DON’T want to be somewhere else, unloading your pet hates, the gossip, and all the gritty, gory details.

CAUTION: as bad interview habits go, moaning is probably up there, topping the list.  It will only show you as a negative person – as someone who chooses to focus on bad points rather than striving for improvement and success. No future employer will take sympathy on you, because they’re not looking to be your best friend or agony aunt. They’re looking to be your professional mentor. They want to know that you’re able to work well with others and manage any situation put to you – people skills are a huge important part of agency life and your interview is the prime opportunity where you can show off your qualities: humility, maturity and competency.

Also, it’s a small world! You don’t know who your employer might know – now and in the future. It might well be that dishing out insults might well come back to hurt you and, if nothing else, your new employer may well contact previous employers for your references, so it’s well within your own interests not to burn any bridges. Forgive and forget, move on to somewhere that suits you better, and don’t let your pride get in the way!

So how do you answer this difficult question?

Firstly, keep it short and sweet. Have a concise answer and then move onto the future. Focus on the tomorrow and not the past.

Secondly, remain positive. Examples could be, instead of lack of fit, “I feel like I’m better suited to a company that has strong commitment to mentorship and fosters career development and growth”. Or, instead of saying I’m bored and unchallenged, “after several years in my current position I’m looking for more responsibility and new challenges”.

Lastly, be honest and also follow up with positives that you got from your previous role – lessons learned, experience gained, and success achieved.

Best of luck!

I’m a Founding Partner of Bamboo Crowd. I help our clients invest better in people and scale through Engine. I solve recruitment challenges and help our clients source the best talent across operations, business development, programme management, and technology. Ask me about good films, beards and hip hop.