Our Experts | Lesley Shiels

When you leave a job, it’s important to tailor your story for your upcoming interviews. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it is almost a guarantee that employers will want you to explain your job departure.

Here are 6 ways to alleviate the awkward “departure history” part of an interview:

  1. It is critical that you never lie about the situation. You don’t have to give all the juicy details, but you can sum up what happened in the most positive light possible while still being honest. A lie can really come back to bite you, especially in small work communities such as the legal field.
  1. Give it a positive spin. Again, this shouldn’t be a lie, but there are ways to say things that sound better than others. Certain language should be used, such as: part ways, mutual, and not a good fit. Some employers will want more information, but typically a short explanation is enough to satiate your interviewer.
  1. Don’t bad mouth an employer or bash a situation. Has it been stressed enough to stay positive? No matter how bad the situation really was, you don’t want to burn bridges or put off a potential new employer by bashing the old one.
  1. Don’t give contradictory information. If you say you just didn’t want to work anymore, your employer will wonder why you are at their interview. Clearly, you never “just leave a position” if you need a job, and the flippant excuse will sound unbelievable.
  1. Be prepared to call on your advocates. If you left with some good relationships intact at your previous job, ask them to write you letters of reference and advocate on your behalf.
  1. Bring examples of your work. You can always explain to an employer that it just didn’t work out as a cultural fit, or perhaps a personality clash, but that you did excellent work and got a lot of experience out of your last position, and back it up with your portfolio.