Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains how to answer the tricky questions that translate into, “Why didn’t you leave your job sooner?” 

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We're talking about one of those tough interview questions that's actually remarkably easy. But most people are affected by the shock of being asked this question and it translates into, "Why didn't you leave sooner?"

This is normally posed as something along the lines of, "if you knew your firm was in trouble, why didn't you get out sooner?" "If you knew your firm was up for an acquisition, why didn't you leave sooner?"

Again, it's a question that deals with certain economic times and and how firms are looking at job applicants through a microscope. . . And I think it's an easy question to answer because you can tie in loyalty to your answer.

So, the way I would answer a question like this is understanding that they're kind of puzzled that a talented person would go down with the ship.

I might answer along the lines of, "well, frankly, I was spending a lot of time, I was putting all my effort into doing my job and three other people's jobs that I had taken on, doing them well. I didn't really take a lot of time to 'come up for air.' Now, you may think that was not the appropriate response, but I'm a loyal person and I was trying to make a go of it for the organization, doing my bit. Others might have abandoned the ship. I hunkered down and tried to make it stay afloat. I did my part and, you know, again, you may not have thought that was the best approach but I believe in loyalty and this firm had been good to me for so long; I felt it was appropriate to give back."

So, again, the idea is to turn what they may perceive as a negative into a positive by talking about your loyalties to an organization, how they had been good to you and how you, in turn, wanted to be good to them.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
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