Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?

  | James Innes

Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?

Alternative and related questions:

Why did you leave that job?
Have you ever been made redundant and, if so, why?
Have you ever been fired?

The meaning behind the question:

This question is related to a question we've already previously covered, 'Why did you leave that job?'  The difference here is clearly that they're curious as to, not only why you left that job, but also why you left it after 'such a short time', the definition of a 'short time' varying of course.  The interviewer is hunting again for possible skeletons in your cupboard...

Your answer:

If you only stayed in a job for a short time then there was obviously a reason for this – but it may not necessarily be a positive selling point for you.  Employers are always wary of hiring people who might not stay for long and especially people who have done a fair bit of 'job-hopping' in the past.

If the answer to the question is that you were either made redundant or fired then please refer back to question no. 27 in Chapter 3 where I cover how to handle these specific cases.

However, if you left of your own volition then why?  Problems with your boss?  Problems with a colleague?  To deal with these, I'd suggest you refer back to the advice given under the top 10 question in Chapter 2, "Why do you wish to leave your current position?"

But there are of course many other possible reasons, for example:

  • You found the job you took didn't turn out to be 'as advertised'.
  • You found the job you took changed dramatically, for example due to restructuring.
  • The next job you took was an opportunity not to be missed.


My advice is very simple.  Just tell it like it is.  You made a positive move for positive reasons with the intention of achieving a positive outcome – simple as that.


Shortly after I started with the company, external management consultants were called in and tasked with undertaking a major restructuring.  While my role wasn't made redundant as such, it did change out of all recognition and it simply wasn't the job I signed up for.  In particular, the marketing element was completely removed from my job description and yet that is my main interest and was what I had hoped I would be focussing on when I initially agreed to take the job.  I therefore felt I had to look for a new job, one which would enable me to continue on my desired career path – and that led to my successfully being hired for my next job.

Word of warning:

As always, don't let this question tempt you into saying anything negative or critical of any previous employers you have had.

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