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How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

The effects of the Great Resignation of 2021 [1] are still being felt, and many of those who left their jobs in their droves are now on the hunt for a new start. Others may be seeking new work to combat the ongoing cost of living crisis [2]. One thing that all job hunters have in common, however, is the need to impress when they reach the interview stage of a recruitment campaign.

Preparation is fundamental

To succeed in the competitive world of job hunting, one must take the time to prepare. You must take the time necessary to understand what the role will entail and the value and mission of the company, particularly where it is within a startup or scaleup organisation. Understanding the strategic intent of the company is essential to identifying whether it is an environment in which you will thrive and develop.

You will need to determine the extent to which your own skills will benefit the hiring organisation and prepare examples as to where you have previously demonstrated those skills. A key element of preparing for a job interview is considering how you would answer the questions that you are most likely to be asked, and one such question is the dreaded “Why did you leave your last job?”

Why did you leave?

This, at first glance, innocuous question offers hiring organisations a glimpse into the type of person that you are. It will show them how honest you are and how well you have prepared for your interview. It may even help them to distinguish between you and another equally well-qualified candidate to determine which of you would be the better fit for the company’s culture and operating ethos.

It is essential that you answer this question honestly, but tactfully.

The main reasons that people leave their jobs, particularly in an uncertain economic climate, are redundancy, seeking an increase in salary or a promotion, to change career or to find a job that is a better fit for their lifestyle. We explore these reasons and the best way in which to explain them below.


Any life sciences organisation understands risk. They understand that funding is not guaranteed and that venture capital investors can withdraw support without notice. They will know which companies in the field are struggling and will almost certainly already be aware from your CV that the most likely reason that you have applied for the role is because of the collapse or partial collapse of your current firm.

In this instance, you will need to explain honestly that your existing role was impacted by the financial changes that affected the organisation and that you were let go. Discuss how your role delivered a benefit, highlight any successes in-role and where your particular strengths lie. Explain why you feel that the skills and experience that you have attained make you a good fit for the hiring organisation.

Better Career Prospects

Whether you have hit a glass ceiling in your current role or have been passed over for progression, applying for a higher paid role elsewhere makes sound financial sense, particularly when the cost of everyday essentials only keeps rising.

Early stage European biotech companies will be keen to hear from ambitious and forward-thinking candidates. They will welcome applications from those with relevant industry experience who are looking for their next step up the career ladder. Make sure that you do not indulge in any negativity towards your current employer but explain what it is about the role on offer that excites and appeals to you and why you would prefer to work for the hiring organisation than remain in your current position.

Career Change/Better Lifestyle Fit

If you have not worked in the field of biotech before, an employer will be particularly curious to understand why you are interested in their position. Perhaps you are pursuing a passion that has hitherto remained out of reach due to family commitments or a lack of suitable roles within the vicinity, or that you have realised that you have a range of transferable skills that lend themselves well to satisfying the needs of the role on offer.

It may be that you have reached the pinnacle of your current career path but remain unsatisfied and feel that a change of direction may allow you to fulfil your personal growth ambitions. You may even be looking to move home, and your current organisation will require a longer commute from your new property than the organisation to which you are applying.

Whatever the reason for your intended career change, ensure that you make it clear to recruiters that you are a loyal and dedicated team player who has been attracted by the benefits offered by this particular role rather than simply wanting to leave your current organisation on a whim.


There are many times when innovation is essential in the life sciences sector, but answering this interview question is not one of them. Be honest and engage keenly with the interviewer and you will be on the right trajectory for success. If you need support in finding your next role, contact Scalex Consulting today. We will guide you through the recruitment process and help you to secure a role that will offer you long-term job satisfaction and personal growth.

Speak with one of our Life Science Recruitment Specialists today if you are looking for a fresh challenge and career advice. Book a consultation.

If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading 10 Tips on How to Craft a Perfect Resume



ScaleX Consulting offer trusted business consulting and recruitment services to life sciences and biotech companies, ready to take the next step in their journey, particularly with life science recruitment, sales and marketing.