Tough Interview Questions - Why did you leave your last job?

Following is a tough interview question:

Why did you leave your last job?

Similar interview questions:
Why do you have so many job changes? Why did you leave [company A] to go to [company B]?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is looking for two things: 1) your motivation in making a job change (which may help in identifying how to more effectively recruit you if they are interested in hiring you); and 2) whether you left based on your choice or the employer's choice.

The best approach to answering this question:
If you have solid reasons for making a move, state them clearly. However, keep in mind that those reasons may be used by this employer in their attempts to get you to make a job change. If you had less than solid reasons for making the move (especially if it was not your choice), do NOT lie about it (you will eventually be found out and it will end your candidacy). However that does not mean you have to give all the details. Simply talk about the next opportunity and what attracted you. Although that isn't fully answering the question ("Why did you leave..."), few interviewers will call you on it. If they do probe further about the departure reasons from the prior employer, simply state that the next opportunity was a better fit for your skill set.

An example of how to best answer this question:
"I was doing well in my role at [company B], but had already progressed as far as I could in my role without someone leaving or retiring. So when I was approached by [company B] to consider an external opportunity at the next level, I took the time to evaluate the opportunity. My boss at [company A] was sad to lose me from the team, but she also understood that it was the right long term move for my career."

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, let's just say it was a mutual decision. I didn't really want to work there anymore and they didn't really want me on the team anymore. There was a lot of conflict on our team, so I was glad to leave. They said they wouldn't fight my unemployment if I left quietly, so I left and spent the next six months doing fix up projects around the house. Now that my unemployment is running out, I need to get back to work."

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!