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How to Explain Why I Quit my Last Job

Nurses   (555 Views 11 Comments)
by jnnrn jnnrn (New Member) New Member

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Hi everyone,

I graduated nursing school last year and started my first nursing job in March 2019 on a L&D unit. I had a terrible experience at this hospital involving bullying from older nurses and uncivil behavior from doctors. I tried so hard to push through but it reached a point where I was breaking down everyday before and after work. I resigned from the position in July. I have been applying to various types of nursing positions in my area and I have been having trouble answering the question "Why did you leave your last position after such a short time?" I have tried giving the positive/most professional answer by not throwing my last employer under the bus at all, but I have gotten the impression that the interviewer thinks I'm being dishonest. I have also tried telling a sugar coated version of the truth by saying "I didn't feel as supported as a new grad" but this also came off like I am a problem starter. What really is the best way to explain my situation where I can truly get them to understand where I'm coming from? 

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hppygr8ful has 15 years experience and specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

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"My last position was not a good fit and I decided to move on"

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Crash_Cart has 11 years experience and specializes in ER OR LTC Code Blue Trauma Dog.

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The most professional answer, is the shortest answer. 

No need for long, drawn out explanations of everything.

Everything you just explained in your post occuring at the former workplace can be summed up in these two words. "Unresolvable conflict."

An interviewer is going to understand you don't want to speak badly about a previous employer and this has absolutely nothing to do with being dishonest about anything. 

Remember, the moment you start explaining the gory details of the situation to the interviewer in great detail, is the same moment you won't be getting that job. 

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5 minutes ago, Crash_Cart said:

The most professional answer, is the shortest answer. 

No need for long, drawn out explanations of everything.

Everything you just explained in your post occuring at the former workplace can be summed up in these two words. "Unresolvable conflict."

An interviewer is going to understand you don't want to speak badly about a previous employer and this has absolutely nothing to do with being dishonest about anything. 

Remember, the moment you start explaining the gory details of the situation to the interviewer in great detail, is the same moment you won't be getting that job. 

Thank you for your response,

Unfortunately, on about 4 different interviews now, the interviewer has always asked for more details after I give my short, professional response. It corners me into a really awkward position where I then come off as dishonest as I try to beat around the bush. 

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Crash_Cart has 11 years experience and specializes in ER OR LTC Code Blue Trauma Dog.

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3 minutes ago, jnnrn said:

Thank you for your response,

Unfortunately, on about 4 different interviews now, the interviewer has always asked for more details after I give my short, professional response. It corners me into a really awkward position where I then come off as dishonest as I try to beat around the bush. 

Nope, just stick with maintaining the same narrative, remain positive and professional. 

If they keep digging for more of an explanation, reply with one of these explanations:

"I was no longer finding the work fulfilling or enjoying my work as much."

"I re-evaluated my career goals and decided a change was needed."

"I didn’t feel there was an opportunity to grow or advance further in that role so I decided a change would best for my career.”

Whatever you say, never go into gossip mode about your former workplace during an interview. Remember, they may be testing the waters to see if you will. 

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Be honest and provide specific situations that made you feel that way.  You don’t need to say it was a crummy hospital and everyone stunk, but real examples instead of vague explanations are almost always a better choice in interviews. 

This is one of the reasons I always ask about the culture at a work place before accepting a job.  You can usually tell if they sincerely like their work environment or not by the way they explain it to you.

Edited by Rionoir

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Crash_Cart has 11 years experience and specializes in ER OR LTC Code Blue Trauma Dog.

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Put yourself in the interviewer's perspective for a moment...

As soon as you badmouth your former employer, or any employees of your former workplace, the interviewer will start to wonder what your employer would say. They’ll always be thinking to themselves they want the other side of the story.

It won't matter how "honest" or "forthcoming" you might think you are being either. There's always going to be a certain amount of doubt remaining about your story in the interviewers mind anyway you choose.   

One of the problems is whenever you provide them with a detailed explanation of why you left your former employer, that story becomes the primary focus of the interview.

That is to say, the interview is no longer about "you" in the scope of being a qualified employee for the posted position anymore.  It becomes about "the story" why you left your former employer instead. 

Additionally, everytime you answer one question about the story, it just creates more unanswered questions for them. There's just no end to it and it sabotages the interview. 

If the interview continues in this direction, the only possible outcome at this point is for the interviewer to ask themselves questions like:

#1  “How do I know this isn’t going to happen again if I hire this person for my team?”

#2 "I wonder why this employee didn't get along well with others?" 

Then the interviewer at this point will probably just want to "play it safe" and think it's better not to take a chance, rather than make a hiring mistake. A mistake that would make them look bad to their boss. After all, they have many other applicants ready to interview and it's just easier for them to look at another one, instead of trying to confirm or deny any details of your horror story at your former workplace. 

That's why it won't matter what explanation you provide them with.  It just leaves them with "negative thoughts" the more you talk about it during the interview. 

Why poison the interview? The interview should remain positive, progressive and be moving forward at all times.  If it stalls on "the story" then you most likely won't get the job. 

Always better to divert the interview away from that discussion and get off the subject in the shortest amount of time possible. You can do that by providing a short, professional and reasonable response. 

Edited by Crash_Cart

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Jory has 10 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNM.

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FYI: L&D Nurses as a general rule, have probably the worst reputation in terms of bullying new nurses of any department.  For this reason alone, I don't think it is a good place for new grads.  It's not that you can't learn the work as a new grad, it's the work environment.

During downtime, I have got the opportunity to speak to a lot of the new nurses and bullying is a huge reason for turnover.   I attend births at two hospitals...one has a much larger problem with turnover so bad they have had to bring in travelers.  If they got rid of two senior nurses, their turnover rate would probably go down to almost nothing--they are absolutely nasty to junior staff.  

The problem is our birthing environment....instead of being seen as a natural physiological event, it's treated more like a step-down ICU.  This causes L&D nurses to try to "control" everything about the process and for some reason, management supports this practice. 

Even as an APRN...they try to bully us too.  When I was a new CNM about two months in I had to have a meeting with all of the nurses in the department because the midwifery model was relatively new to the unit and they thought it was managed the same as the medical model.  The push back I got was ridiculous.

When you gain experience, you'll find your ground.  It's hard being new.

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I agree with the above posters who say you should keep your answer short and sweet. However, if the interviewer keeps pushing and absolutely NEEDS more info, be very careful with how you explain the situation. I would still stay as general as possible. Maybe something like, "I am a recent graduate who is very eager to learn and am looking for an opportunity that is more conducive with that". 

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Snatchedwig has 11 years experience as a ADN, CNA, LPN, RN and specializes in Medsurg.

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I learned the previous job was not a good fit for me as a nurse.  

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FolksBtrippin is a BSN, RN and specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

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On 8/9/2019 at 9:27 PM, jnnrn said:

Thank you for your response,

Unfortunately, on about 4 different interviews now, the interviewer has always asked for more details after I give my short, professional response. It corners me into a really awkward position where I then come off as dishonest as I try to beat around the bush

 

I don't answer why I left, I answer what I'm looking for. No beating around the bush, but it's about what I want not what I don't want.

"I'm looking for a positive culture with a focus on teamwork." Or whatever I like best about the mission statement.  If I have a friend who can vouch for the positive working environment at new hospital, I would drop that persons name in my answer.

If they pressed me further or seemed dissatisfied after that I'm not sure I still want to work there. It's an interview, not time to dish up the dirt. 

They can figure out that your last job was a poor working environment. 

If they require you to gossip about that, then you're probably in for more of the same. 

 

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