Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow - How to Depart Without Falling Apart

By Jana Kleinman

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Let's face it - at least one time in our lives, the likelihood of us parting ways with an employer will occur. For some of us, we may look to leave voluntarily, have been part of an excess/layoff, and for others - there are isolated terminations. Saying goodbye is challenging for everyone involved. Why? Because we spend a majority of our lives with the people we work with and more often times than not colleagues become friends and family, and your work family may be able to describe your lunch order better than your own mother!  Nonetheless, our lives take us in different directions, but our common ground will always be the question which needs to be addressed on a job interview:

"Why are you looking to leave your current role?"


"What caused your previous role to end?"

This question is arguably, the top question where applicants are judged most. I'm sharing my client's biggest pet peeves below and why they are counterproductive in getting a new job.

Pet Peeve #3

  • Applicants Look Uncomfortable:

Description: Applicants look and sound visibly altered by the power of this question. For example, on telephone interviews - applicants often say a lot of "ummms" or take "pauses" and the inflection in their voice changes. During in-person interviews, applicants shift around in their chairs, play with their fingers, and often look downwards.
Outcome: Client is concerned you cannot be client facing.

Reality: If an applicant looks uncomfortable, it can make the perspective employer feel uncomfortable. Employers are concerned as to how individuals will be able to handle client needs that may require YOU to encounter challenging situations. Those who appear to have a lack of confidence can raise a red flag as to their ability to handle tough situations. The best thing to do in this situation is to prepare an answer in advance and be conscious of your body language and vocal tone.

Pet Peeve #2

  • Dancing Around the Topic:

Description: Clients state that applicants do not address the question directly, or even worse, they initiate the discussion ad nauseam.

Outcome: Time management concerns.

Reality: During an interview, the main focus should be the work you do and what valuable contributions you can make to a new organization. Too much time spent discussing your departure can raise a red flag about your ability to stay on-task. Time is money, and both are valuable resources. An interviewer should NOT need to cut you off if you are "on a roll" discussing your exit strategy. Provide a sufficient amount of information and if your prospective employer asks you to dive a little deeper, feel free to elaborate. Less is more.

Pet Peeve #1

  • Emotional Closure:

Description: There's nothing worse than an applicant who hasn't found emotional closure in parting ways with an employer. This is the number one pet peeve because it's also easiest to spot. Feeling hurt, anger or resentment sometimes happen and while those feelings are absolutely entitled by every individual, it should be controlled during an interview.
Outcome: Employee give the impression that he/she doesn't play well with others.

Reality: Applicants who dwell on issues that occurred in the work place, appear like they have trouble playing nicely in the sandbox with other teammates, or even worse - handling direct authority. This is an easy fix. Make your point in a few words and be sure to demonstrate something positive. For example: "While my manager and I did not see eye to eye on how we felt the client needs should be handled, I did learn a lot from him/her and I'm grateful for that experience. I'd like to learn more from a mentor in my next role."

Moral of the Story:

Employers hire individuals who can do the following:

  • Maintain client trust during the toughest and most uncomfortable situations
  • Are conscious of time management
  • Can bring added value to the company and collaborate well with existing employees.
  • Be positive and optimistic in order to drive revenue up. Remember happiness is contagious.

Do your best to convey positive energy on your interview and you'll not only feel better ... you'll do better!

Jana Kleinman, Strategic Media and Creative Talent Manager/Staffing Golden Retriever


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