This is probably the most-asked interview question, next to “[d]o you have any questions for us?”. And there is a reason for that. The answer to this question really tells the employer a lot about you and what you are all about.
In order to answer this job interview question effectively, you must be succinct, confident, but not overtly conceited. The answer should be longer than 1 minute but shorter than 3 minutes. Beyond a few minutes, you are just going to lose their attention. To answer this question, talk a little about where you grew up, your education, and any relevant work experience you have. Be sure to concentrate a lot of your time on your career.
This is not a question for you to talk about your personality or character traits—but the interviewer should be able to get a good grasp of who you are from your answer to this question.
Do not ever bad-mouth your previous employer when answering this job interview question. It doesn’t matter if the previous employer really stuck it to you or not. Doing so is very unbecoming and unprofessional and can easily disqualify you from the job you are applying for. If you really did leave your previous job because you did not like your boss, you can simply state that you and the previous employer did not see eye to eye on certain aspects of the job.
Be sure to have specific examples in mind. Another good answer to this question is to say that there was no room in the company to grow professionally and further your skills. You should also never say that the previous employer did not pay you enough—this will make the interviewer think that you are only in it for the money.