In last week’s blog we discussed some tips for setting up the job interview. This week we’ll focus on how to prepare for questions about your last position.

One of the first questions that is going to be asked in an interview is what happened with your last employer: Why did you leave the position and what were the circumstances? To answer this question effectively, it’s important to have a positive, non-controversial statement about your departure from your previous employer. Regardless of what happened, you want to keep your statement short and sweet. At the same time, you also want to address any concerns that the interviewer might have so they don’t pop up later in the interview.

The best way to explain why you’re no longer with the company is to give a brief statement of events that have affected the company and led up to your release—then move on without dwelling on the past. In some cases, the response can be simple: layoffs, your place of employment went bankrupt, or you simply want to take the next step in your career. Your response can be more difficult if you were asked to leave your last position because of poor performance, new management or other potentially negative situations.

Ultimately, you want your response to be as emotionless as possible by stating facts rather than opinion. If possible, offer the interviewer someone they can speak to at your former place of work. Providing a third party to speak on your behalf will ease the interviewer’s mind and position you in a positive way.

Here’s a sample statement for leaving: “My regional Sales Director position was eliminated as a result of the downsizing of the Sales Department. Eight positions were eliminated, including mine. There were no other jobs available and the company provided me with a severance package. That is why I’m looking for a new position.”

Finally, even if your departure from your last organization may have been unexpected, you want to make clear that you have a plan for your next job and deliberately chose this organization for a reason.