Sample interview answers

Since everyone’s situation is unique, there is no one perfect answer that works best for everyone.

Let’s take Mark’s question, “Why did you leave your last job?”

Mark has been a school principal for 30 years. He was recently encouraged to resign over a minor infraction of school board policy.

Now he is faced with looking for a new job. Even with all his experience in school administration and near perfect track record, he faces an up hill battle.

He is worried that he’ll never work in school administration again, and is contemplating pursuing a new career at 53 years old.

Mark’s Question:

I have been in education all my life for the past 30 years. I have been a teacher for 15 years and an administrator (Principal) for the past 15. I recently resigned my position for personal reasons due to breaking a board policy regarding the Internet.

While this was never made public an article was released stating specifically that I had resigned for personal reasons and further stated that no child was involved. It did not occur during school hours and no law was broken, just an unspecified rule and due to confidentiality, no further explanation could be given.

I have been interviewing for the past 6 months and have been having difficulty answering the question, “Why did you leave your last job?”

My answer to date has been, “I have resigned due to personal reasons and that it was just time for me to move on.” Several districts did contact my previous employer as they were interested in hiring me however to no avail. My evaluations are stellar and my references perfect.

I was hoping that you could shed some insight as to how I should answer this question. I would be happy to call you about this if you would like further clarification. I am only 53 and need to work for sure.

I have certainly been struggling with staying with education or changing my career entirely to the corporate world. I have been interviewing for positions in education primarily as a principal and Director of Curriculum, and in some cases assistant superintendent as I have recently passed my school administrator’s test. Essentially this qualifies me to apply for central administrative jobs.

To date, I have made application to 24 positions, have interviewed for 8 positions, was a finalist in two and called back one of these only to learn that it was a matter of chemistry, an answer I often gave as principal to candidates who inquired as to how they did.

Although not perfectly the truth I have used the following answer in two of my last interviews: “I recently lost my father, my secretary who was like a mother to me, and went through a terrible divorce so I resigned for personal reasons.” While all of this was in fact true, I left out the broken rule issue and I am beginning to think at this point it is time to move on.

With that in mind I was curious about a few things. What venue, given my background (resume attached) would you think would be a good fit to my skill set?

I will tell you this, I am enthusiastic, a hard worker, and can certainly be persuasive when I have to be. I have been a workshop presenter and keynote speaker and continue to teach at the college level.


To read the rest of Mark’s question and my answer, visit my Job Interview Answers page.

You have just read a transcript of real problem posed by Mark, who is not sure how to answer why he left his last job.

Inside The Complete Interview Answer Guide, you’ll find professionally written sample interview answers. Don shows job seekers how to answer interview questions. The 201+ sample answers in the guide will quickly help you craft your own professional answers for ALL types of interview questions and answers for any occupation.

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