I've seen a lot of answers advocating giving your reason for leaving your last employment as 'It was a bad fit for me.'

What does that really mean? When I see it it boils down to a few possibilities. Particularly when it's a company that has been around for a while and has lots of staff.

You couldn't get on with the people.

You couldn't do the work.

You couldn't comply with company policies or attendance requirements.

None of these make you particularly appealing. So I'm trying to understand the logic behind it. It doesn't really say anything positive about the applicant.

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    This question seems to be suitable for the main site. When this question appeared at the water cooler, I actually thought for a moment that it was from the main site. – Masked Man Sep 12 '17 at 3:29
  • @MaskedMan yes, but I didn't want to put it there as it might discourage people from using that phrase which seems so mainstream, and I might be totally wrong or missing something about it. – Kilisi Sep 12 '17 at 5:08
  • "a lot of answers" Really? Because as you say that is simply not really a reason. Any half-way competent interviewer will ask what that means. As far as I'm concerned this would be a non-answer. – Lilienthal Sep 12 '17 at 6:23
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    "Bad fit" is so nebulous, it could mean anything. You have chosen 3 bad options, but there are plenty of others. "I was too skilled for the role", for example. – Joe Strazzere Sep 12 '17 at 11:18
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    I would interpret this in general as dealing the cultural fit, for example: Company expected you to work long hours, or SR Management would not spend money when needed, or I did not get along with someone in my department, or some promise the company made to me was not kept. Its a polite "catch all phrase" for it just did not work out. – Neo Sep 12 '17 at 11:24
  • @MisterPositive - I agree with your interpretation of the phrase. I disagree that this would be a good question for the main site (too broad, too opinion-based, IMHO). – Joe Strazzere Sep 12 '17 at 12:00
  • @JoeStrazzere Agree too after further review. – Neo Sep 12 '17 at 12:01
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    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." – Joe Strazzere Sep 12 '17 at 12:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belongs on the main site. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 14 '17 at 19:22

I've always viewed it as one of those polite little fictions that society has developed, interviewers aren't idiots and they will understand that there must be some kind of problem behind the candidate leaving the job (otherwise they would still be there right?) but this lets both parties gloss over it without turning the conversation too negative. It also provides reassurance that were they to hire the candidate that they wouldn't be going round bad-mouthing them to all and sundry if/when they eventually left.


I would interpret it similar to you, along the lines of "something didn't work out and I don't want to talk about what it was because it makes me look bad" which doesn't really benefit the candidate.

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    It also could be I dont want to say anything negative about the company I left because that would also make me look bad. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 14 '17 at 19:21

Why else do you leave? Aren't money, fit and personal literally the only reasons to leave?

You say "You couldn't", but it could just as easily be "You don't want to", as in:

  • You don't want to be part of that company culture nor do you want to fit in with those people.
  • You don't want to do the work, because it's boring or challenging in the wrong ways.
  • You don't want to be subject to their unreasonable company policies.

"Bad fit" doesn't seem like a bad sign, it's just really vague.

For culture, if you really don't want to talk about it, it would probably be (marginally) better to say "the culture was a bad fit", followed up by an evasive response and focusing on the positive of the work.

For the others, you should probably just explain.


It sounds bad, but sometimes it was just true. We just got rid of a guy who just didn't fit in. Not a bad guy, not a bad worker, just a terrible fit for the company.

  • Yep, that happens, but why would he want to give that as the reason for leaving? – Kilisi Sep 13 '17 at 19:51
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    @Kilisi if you were him, what would you say? Just curious because I have no idea what I would say. – Old_Lamplighter Sep 13 '17 at 19:55
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    I don't know, I always say the same thing, 'I left because I want more money'. But I've heard lots of other reasons such as 'family commitments' etc,. – Kilisi Sep 13 '17 at 20:13

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