I recently left my place of work because of personal reason. I informed my boss of everything and he was completely understanding--he wished me well. It revolved around not wanting to be around a specific person.

If it matters, I am in the Software/Database field.

Going forward, to me it seems that, "I left for personal reasons", and being reluctant to say the reason could be a red flag when interviewing at another company. Is this the case? Perhaps I am being too paranoid? Should I find a way to gracefully put why I left?

  • 1
    I'd probably answer this question differently depending on whether it was a personal reason that had something to do with the kind of work you were doing, or something else. "I became a vegan and could no longer work for a company that produces leather" is different from "The company hired somebody who had assaulted my best friend in the past and I couldn't bear to see his face every day".
    – John Feltz
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 22:06
  • I will update the question. It did have to do with not wanting to be around a specific person.
    – Jeff.Clark
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 22:18
  • 3
    Not wanting to be around a specific person makes it seem like you're not a team player, and if I was your potential employer I would question "What is wrong with this guy?" not "what was wrong with that person". Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 22:33
  • How personal are these personal reasons ? I do not want to know them - but can a recruiter hear them, provided that you take the time to phrase them within a single sentence ?
    – Thalantas
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 8:32
  • @Thalantas The thing is, I suppose I can say they are fairly religious reasons, and I do not believe anyone who does not believe as I do will understand. My boss was of the same religion and that is why he was understanding.
    – Jeff.Clark
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:39

4 Answers 4


"I left for personal reasons"

Leave it at that, and the interviewer will be wondering if you are going to leave the job you are applying for "personal reasons", too.

It's up to you to let the interviewer know that these "personal reasons" were a one-off and reassure them that the situation is not going to recur.

If you fail to do so or your assurances are not deemed credible, then chances are that your prospective employer will pass you up in favor of candidates who don't have the issue you had.

It will help your situation if you have nothing but nice things to say about your ex-employer and you say you would have happily stayed if that one-off situation had not occurred.

@DavidK comments in addition "It will also help to say that your boss was completely understanding of your situation and there were no hard feelings, particularly if you can use him as a reference."


"I left for personal reasons" makes it sound as if you're a difficult person to work on a team with and you can't work through personal differences with colleagues.

If I were in your position, I would leave out the fact that I left for personal reasons altogether. You do not want to say anything to a potential employer that could raise a red flag.

Instead, tell interviewers/recruiters that you left to look for new opportunities, as you didn't have the work/life balance to do so at said company. Let them know that you considered your options and you had the resources to leave your job and look for new opportunities. Even if you DON'T have lots of money saved up, you don't need to specify what type of 'resources' you were referring to. They will assume you mean money, but it doesn't matter. This will also give the recruiter the impression that you're not desperate.

I would avoid talking about any personal disputes/issues you had with other coworkers/employers as this will immediately send up red flags. Even if you mention difficult coworkers/employers anecdotally as evidence that you had good cause to leave you may still raise red flags.

Gloss over why you left and instead take charge of the conversation and tell them what type of company you WANT to work for. Describe to them your ideal work environment.

Heres a sample answer, that you can work with/edit until you have a strong answer.

Question: Why did you leave your previous company?

Answer: I was ready to look for new opportunities but did not have a great work life balance. When I was working I did not have the time to look for new opportunities, but I had the resources to resign and begin looking full time. I'm very interested in working for a company in the [XYZ] industry, and I'm also intent on finding a company that is inline with my values. I think customer appreciation is extremely important and I'm specifically looking for companies that actively seek ways to provide value to their clients.


"I left for personal reasons" sounds like a 'personal' thing that you had 'against your last employer'. In fact, 'personal reasons' could also mean that you had some really nasty stuff going on in your life that you needed to deal with, and couldn't do so with the added burden of a job.

What about saying "I had some things going on in my life at the time, and unfortunately I had to leave very suddenly"?


While the exact sentence you used could surely raise a red flag for the interviewer (I don't know if this guy is gonna stay with us for long or if he's gonna leave the next time other "personal reasons" arise), a single word can really change the meaning.

"I left for exceptional and personal reasons" or "I left for unforeseeable personal reasons".

This shifts the matter on the fact that those reasons were in fact one time only, and while this may raise curiosity in the interviewer, it should not alarm him.

You could also add that it was a coincidence of various personal factors, just to reassure him that this isn't goig to repeat again (or at least that you don't think it's possible).

If the interviewer presses you into revealing those reasons, just be honest and direct: "I'm sorry but this is a very personal matter, and I'd prefer not to speak about that." (at this point is usually a good move to introduce a new topic yourself and try to move the interview forward, as waiting for a response may stall the interview)

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