The question seems to loom above like a dark cloud, causing candidates nervousness and despair. People in the foodservice and hospitality industry are constantly changing their career direction and employers, of course, want to know why. One of the most common interview questions asked is, “Why did you leave your last position?” Change is inevitable, indeed. But, because there is such a disproportionately high turn-over rate in the foodservice and hospitality market, employers are concerned with employee reliability and retention. The management at your new job, most likely, faces many of the same challenges as your previous employer. Therefore, during your interview, your potential employer will be very interested in knowing your history and reputation as an employee. Here are some great ways to gracefully handle the sensitive question and leave your future supervisor impressed.
A huge mistake that people make during interviews is not being totally honest about why they left their last position. Job applications usually have a disclosure agreement that you must sign, acknowledging all information is true and falsification will be grounds for termination. Don’t underestimate the power of technology. Information is far too accessible and available to employers digitally, including your previous employee records from your last position to risk lying. If your potential employer discovers you have been dishonest, they will not want to even deal with you, let alone hire you. If you are honest and straightforward, the supervisor will respect your integrity and ethics more than you realize.
We polled an experienced group of hotel supervisors and asked them what they wanted to hear when they asked, “Why did you leave your last position?” during an interview. The majority of the supervisors said they simply wanted to hear the truth. Kate Laing, Human Resources Manager of Pacrim Hospitality Services, Inc. reveals, “I want to hear the truth because if it doesn’t come out in the interview, it will come out in the references. There are lots of good reasons for leaving a position, including better opportunities, room for growth, or having the opportunity to work in your field.”
Avoid disclosing too many unnecessary details during your interview. Just state the facts briefly and avoid emotion and opinion because they will probably hurt more than help. Try not to complain about others or be negative when describing the previous position and situation. Employers don’t want to bring negative, combative people into their environment.
Be ready for follow-up questions in regard to why you left your last position. The interviewer may respond to your comments with, “Well, what wasn’t challenging enough?” or, “How did you try to fix this?” Your prospective employer will want to know that when you are faced with challenging situation, you are able to come up with quick resolutions and positive outcomes.
Take advantage of an excellent opportunity to show your future employer you are always looking for ways to grow and improve, even in unfavorable conditions. When you tell your prospective supervisor why you left your last position, follow through with specific details on what you learned and how you chose to use it as an opportunity to mature professionally.
Be aware of your body language and non-verbal communication when you are addressing this question. Look your interviewer in the eye, confidently, and show that you have nothing to hide. Attempt to project an open, welcoming demeanor by leaving arms and legs uncrossed and maintaining good posture.
Describing an unfavorable situation can stir up a lot of emotions and cause anxiety. Practice answering this question at home with a family member or friend. This way, you will be mentally prepared and feel relaxed when it comes time for your interview. In turn, your relaxed demeanor you will make your potential employer feeling at ease in your presence and confident with your answers.
If you follow these simple steps before you enter your next foodservice or hospitality interview, you will feel at ease and comfortable in your answers. When you arrive prepared, with a positive attitude, the only question you will have to worry about answering is, “When would you like to start?”