My company is going to repeat the same "mistake" (at least that's what ex and current employee said) by continuing a project. This time to develop new "feature" which is much harder than previous ones and the hardest and most complex "feature" of whole application, as well as those not developed yet.

Some of this project madness includes:

  • 15% - 20% of total employees resigned and counting
  • Those involved in this project are guaranteed they won't have an outside life for months until the project is done
  • Pressure from management to finish the project before timeline with no good analysis of this "feature"'s requirements resulting in bad project planning and estimation

If I leave before getting a job, and later my interviewer asks why I resigned, should I explain this to the interviewer?

  • 4
    You don't like the project, so you are quitting without first having a new job lined up? That doesn't sound good... Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:11
  • Yes I am absolutely concern about that, but I have felt how it turned my life upside down in the past and as finding job in my country is almost very hard.
    – Lewis
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:18
  • 3
    Not an answer to your specific question, but you would probably be better off searching for the job first. You're hardly worried about the future of the company so that discounts your first and third points and as for your second point about not having an outside life, simply make your outside life your priority - they can hardly fire you for refusing to work 16 hours per day. Finally, there's a chance that your ex and current colleague are mistaken / biased and it won't be so bad.
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    One way to deal with death march projects is to refuse to participate in the death march. Do the best work you can, and refuse to sacrifice your personal life. You can tell them -- sorry, I can't be productive above 40 hours per week, and I'm not sacrificing my mental and physical health to meet an impossible schedule. It will limit your career there but you don't care about that so it's no big deal. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 23:20
  • 1
    Have you quit already? Don't. The thing you need is time to complete the difficult and slow task of finding a employer that doesn't suck, and you'll also need the confidence to turn the bad ones down. You'll lose both of these the moment you quit. Put in a strict 40hrs (you've checked out, they have no leverage over you), don't get emotional involved with the unravelling failure and start interviewing.
    – Nathan
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 23:19

3 Answers 3



Keep your reasons simple and generic - "it was not a good fit", or something similar.

If you say bad things about your previous employer, I will assume you will say bad things about me when you leave.

  • 2
    Also the interviewer has no way of knowing whether you (the OP) were the source of the problem or the previous employer
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:48

I didn't want to be involved in the project and my way of dealing with that is to quit.

That does not come across as a future employee a company can rely on.

Don't mention it that way. Keep it generic like Dan says - the farthest you could go (maybe) is mentioning that the working conditions did not suit you; but be able to back that up with exact numbers about overtime etc.

  • +1 yeah that's not a great first impression. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 15:02
  • 2
    Just saying: If the company is bad enough then leaving may very well be the right thing to do, but it's not something you give as the reason.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 15:50

Yes, carefully.

The problem with saying "it wasn't a good fit" and leaving it at that is that you'll end up at another job with the same situation. What you want to do is say it wasn't a good fit, then explain why it wasn't a good fit, in as respectful a way as possible to your previous employer, but without papering over the problems.

Don't say things like:

  • mistake
  • project madness
  • no good analysis
  • bad project planning and estimation

Do say things like (assuming all this is true):

  • Due to disagreements between managers and employees, 15% - 20% of total employees have resigned.
  • The latest project would require employees to work extreme hours (give a number, if possible) for X months, which I find unacceptable. I understand some crunch time is always inevitable, but I will not work planned crunch time for a long period of time.
  • The timeline presented to me was unclear and, in my judgment, unrealistic, particularly given the recent resignation of so many employees.

In my experience, if you can give concrete, fact-based reasons why you left a company, without bad-mouthing that company, you can paint a picture to your interviewer that it was an unhealthy place to work without alienating that interviewer. And, if that interviewer has a problem with you not wanting to, for instance, work crunch time for months, then you don't want to work at that company.

What people often forget while interviewing, is that you're not trying to get this job, you're trying to get the right job. Therefore, it's important to be clear about what you won't do in an interview. Just like the employers want to weed out applicants, you want to weed out all the companies that are a bad fit for you.

  • Why is noting that the project failed to engage thorough analysis wrong? I would consider that a legitimate criticism that is not demeaning. I suppose it can be a negative because most companies don't do very good analysis...is that the concern?
    – Bernard Dy
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:05
  • 1
    @BernardDy The problem is saying this about your previous employer. It's absolutely fine (but tread carefully) criticising things that go wrong in your current employment and trying to fix them. But you are not supposed to tell this to others. Unless you have a case where your previous company went bankrupt in a spectacular fashion. If you ever worked at Enron, feel free to tell about everything that went wrong there.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 15:48
  • @BernardDy The problem is not what you say but how you say it. "No good analysis" is a strongly negative feeling. I would say basically the same thing as, "The timeline presented to me was unclear and, in my judgment, unrealistic, particularly given the recent resignation of so many employees." It has a much more objective tone while still explaining the problem.
    – Azuaron
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:14
  • @Azuaron: Just taking an example here, but saying that you left because a projects time line was unrealistic is going to make me wonder what that means. I'm going to wonder if you'll bolt if I ask you to stay a few hours late one day... Ultimately, this comes down to a he said/she said situation in which the employer has no ability to respond AND will leave a bunch of questions in the new employer's mind - which is not what you want during an interview. Best to leave all that behind and not address it.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 19:43
  • @NotMe As I mentioned in the closing paragraph, the goal is not to get this job, but the right job. If you're not a person who can handle unrealistic timelines, you need to work for a company that doesn't have unrealistic timelines.
    – Azuaron
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 19:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .