2nd Most Important Interview Question

What is the second most important interview question that can either help you get the job or put your name into the rejection pile? Here it is:

“Please tell me why you left your last job.”

This question paves the way for a more in-depth discussion filled with follow-up questions that gives your interviewer a deeper understanding of the way you think and feel, what motivates you, how easy or difficult you are to manage and coach, how well you work with others, and much more.

Similar to the interview question from my last post, it is the 10 to 15 minute conversation that stems from the follow-up questions below that provides your potential employer with the insights they need to effectively determine if you are the best person for the job.

Imagine you were the candidate. How would you respond to the following set of follow-up questions?

  • Why was that important to you?
  • Describe in detail how you tried to deal with it before choosing to leave and what happened when you tried?
  • What first attracted you to the role and company? What changed and when?
  • What would have had to change to keep you from leaving? Why is that important for you?
  • Please describe your role, the company, the overall culture and the team members you worked with.
  • Please describe in detail your manager’s style.
  • What did you like most or least about your manager?
  • What challenges did you face with your manager and how did you deal with it?
  • Describe in detail the dynamics of the team that you worked with.
  • What did you like most and least about your team?
  • Describe in detail some of the challenges you faced with your team members and how you dealt with them.
  • If everything about that job, company, and culture would have been perfect for you, what would it have taken to get you to leave?
  • What 3 biggest challenges did you face in that role and how did you address them?
  • What was your greatest success during your time with the company?
  • What was your biggest on the job failure and what did you learn from it?
  • Why do you think that this job is a better fit for you and your needs/goals?
  • Why do you think you will be a good fit for this job and company?

You can surely see how after asking only a few of the questions above your interviewer can learn a great deal about you and how well you will fit into the organization, how well or poorly you might work with your new manager, and your fit with the overall role. It is obvious that any seasoned interviewer can greatly increase the likeness of making the right decision about who to hire for the job after engaging candidates in this discussion.

By preparing your answers to the questions above you will be much better equipped to answer a variety of other questions using specific examples from the answers you prepare to these ones. For example, “Why do you want this job and why do you want to work for our company?” or “Please give a specific example of a time you had a conflict with another co-worker or your manager. Describe the conflict in detail and how you dealt with it.” and of course many many more.