One of the most difficult questions for the Finance and Accounting professionals we work with is explaining the reasons why you left past companies.
It is worth thinking through your explanations beforehand to make sure the interviewer truly understands and your bigger motivations are in line with those reasons.
Some interviewers are very meticulous and will ask you about your motivations for leaving each company in detail. Others are only interested in your most recent company. In either case, make sure that each answer makes sense, are definitive, and don’t leave the door open for more questioning and digging from the interviewer. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes; what questions would you ask yourself? For each answer you give, ask yourself at least one follow up question to prepare for an interviewer who will press you.
For example, if one of your answers is “Because there was no career progression opportunity,” then a typical follow up question will be “Did you ask your managers about that opportunity?” Another could be, “Was there something you lacked that prevented you from getting that promotion as opposed to others on the team?”
By doing this exercise for each reason, you can prepare a more complete answer to avoid as many follow up questions as possible. The clearer and more specific your answer is, the less opportunity for the interviewer to ask follow up questions.
Make sure as well that each reason you give is aligned with the job you are interviewing for. Using the example above, if you were interviewing with a smaller organization, you obviously wouldn’t then want to say that you left your last company because it was too small and didn’t provide enough career growth. Same with job content; if you are interviewing for a role that gives you exposure to Budgeting and Forecasting, then you wouldn’t want hint at moving away from FP&A all together for your future. While you won’t know everything about the company you are interviewing with, a quick Google search into the company will go a long way in making sure those reasons are in line with the overall vision of the company.
Just like anything else, answering questions about past motivations can be difficult, but doesn’t have to be with a little preparation. If you provide clear answers that make sense even with follow up questions and highlight where you want to go in your future career; you will be able to give an honest assessment of yourself; which at the end of the day, is what an interview is all about.
As always, we here at Morgan McKinley can give you tips and advice on how to handle difficult questions in interviews each step of the process. Our Career Partner Program is specifically geared to help you in these types of situations throughout the job hunting process.
Feel free to reach out to us as we’re happy to give you honest feedback on your interview style.