Obstacles are learning opportunities in disguise

no-entry-1429631-mHow can I effectively handle job interviews? I am a graduate of one of the prestigious universities in Manila, a dean’s lister (although not a consistent one). I have recently resigned from a company. My reasons for leaving the company were: 1) I felt that my supervisor was limiting my ability to work by not giving me enough projects to work on; 2) when there’s nothing else to do, I had to pretend that I was working so that my department head would not scold me for not working; 3) When I tried to find work by helping my coworkers on some of their workload, my supervisor would call my attention on why I was getting their work. I told my supervisor that they needed help to finish work quickly. I thought that if I were in my supervisor’s shoes, my initiative would lessen the overtime pay of the company and the employees would have enough rest. Do you think I made the right decision in resigning? I am currently looking for a job. What should I tell interviewers when they ask me why I resigned? I am afraid they will think that I was terminated due to insubordination. – Recently Resigned Jobseeker

Interviewers often ask the question, “Why did you resign from your last company?” They ask this to discover your attitudes towards work and employer. This is a tricky question to answer because many people leave their jobs because there is something in the work, work environment or company that they may not have been satisfied with or did work out well for them. Satisfied employees normally would not think of looking for greener pastures. So, if you were to answer this pointblank and state the reasons that you mentioned, the interviewer may have the impression that you are: 1) a complainer, 2) not able to relate well to superiors, 3) easily discouraged. In other words, the interviewers may have a negative image of you.


Now, I am not recommending that you tell a lie or evade the answer. Nor do I suggest that you take the “Fifth Amendment” like the child in “The Witness” (This means you don’t answer because you may incriminate yourself by your truthful testimonies). Sooner or later, the interviewer will find out the real score, if not from your body language, then from a background check that a human resources department does on applicants. I am also not suggesting that you state the “bald truth” which can jeopardize your application. What you can do is to reword your answer in such a way as to remain truthful but not malign the reputation of your previous employer.

From the reasons you listed, it seems that the work environment in your last job was such that it did not encourage your career growth. So that is what you can say, in a positive way, “I resigned from my last company because I wanted to look for opportunities for career growth.” Stated this way, no interviewer can fault you for wanting to improve yourself. However, be sure not to mention any details that would be derogatory to your previous employer. Interviewers appreciate people who prudently keep their previous employer’s internal problems a confidential matter. As employers, they would expect this same behavior from an ex-employee.


Before you rush headlong to your new job, it is also good to process your experience with your last employer and gain lessons from it. You may encounter the same situation in the future and it will not be good if your response to such a situation would again be a resignation. Perhaps you could ask yourself, “What could I have done to improve my situation? Was I able to communicate my good intentions to my supervisor? Was I able to understand their expectations from me as an employee and coworker? Was I able to suggest to my supervisor some ways that I could possibly have work that would be challenging for me?”

If there is one thing that will not change in the workplace, it is this: there are many problems that one will encounter in the workplace. Some may be of lesser burden than what you experienced; others graver. What’s important is, before you consider resigning, look first at other options that you can take to solve the problem. Obstacles are actually learning opportunities in disguise. Once you learn to “jump the bar” or hurdle the obstacles, you will have acquired the basic skills in surviving and thriving in the wonderful, but sometimes woeful work of work.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com


HR professional

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