For legal reasons I can't disclose, but how do I convey that to a prospective employer?

Dear elpha community--

I was involved in a sexual harassment case in 2018. I was employed by one of the big 5 tech companies, and the result was a settlement. I was paid to keep my mouth shut.

I was lucky to find work at a startup during the pandemic (I knew someone on the exec team, and they never asked why I left) and now I'm interviewing again. I have an interview with another big 5 tech company, and I'm unsure how to answer if asked why I left.

I'd like to tell the truth: "for legal reasons I can't disclose" but I fear it sounds like I'm a liability to another big tech company.

Any suggestions?

Hi there, thanks for sharing your story on here. I suggest you say something like "there was no culture fit" or "I felt I couldn't continue my career growth". There are different ways you can express why you left, but it's a neutral subject at best, so saying something that half-way truth is enough of an answer most of the time. Interviews focus on the role & culture, not the past, so as upsetting your situation is, I would suggest to focus on the role and finding the right culture fit for yourself going forward.
Thank you for the great advice. Neutral is the best position to cruise while interviewing, and focusing on the current role and culture is the way forward.
I'm so sorry that happened to you!I've left *several* companies, including a big 5 tech company, because of awful cultures. I was likewise was given hush money from one of them (not the big tech company though). I don't know if this will make you feel any better, but if it's only happened once then you are in a much better situation than me. It's not very hard to explain away one bad experience. It becomes much harder when it's several. If you were there for a while, then you probably don't need any explanation at all other than looking for a change.I don't know if I can give you good advice, but I can tell you what I tell people. (Which is basically what annamiller suggested.) I typically state that it wasn't a good culture fit and that it's important for me to find an inclusive environment. I don't know what people assume, but I'm guessing that they assume that I left quietly without speaking up (not true) if they read between the lines. Most people understand that tech companies have bad cultures and some companies have particularly bad reputations. You can follow that up with explaining what you do want in a culture in a way that shows you are a conscientious teammate. At my big tech disaster, one of my issues was that I was severely under-leveled. I sometimes flip this into a pseudo-positive by saying that my work wasn't as challenging as my prior work and so I left to find something more challenging. People are usually impressed that I found the work there too easy and that I care more about technical challenges than money. Depending on your situation, you might be able to find things that are technically true even if it wasn't the primary reason that you left. Or that reflect positively on you so that they know you weren't a 'poor performer'. Best of luck!
Thank you for the sound advice. I like the positive spin, and digging a bit deeper into technical truths instead of primary ones. Super appreciate it, my interview is tomorrow and I feel much more confident 💎
Good luck!!!
How did your interview go?!
It went well! The interviewer asked indirectly about leaving the big tech company, and more recently the start up and thanks to these recommendations, I gave a neutral response: "it wasn't a cultural fit, and for this next role I'm looking for a more inclusive workplace"
It's a BS question, and you can give them a BS answer. My last job I quit because it was literally sapping my will to live, but I said something like, "I'm looking for new opportunities to grow and learn."
You’re right, it is a BS question. I’m with you, it deserves a BS answer ✊
:( I am so sorry this happened!I'd definitely agree with Anna and would lean with the 2nd option of saying that you were seeking other opportunities to grow and actually can weave this very nicely with the fact that you went to work for a startup (wanted a smaller environment to experience a difference pace/grow different skills in a short amount of time)
Who is ever honest about why they leave a job to a prospective employer?!?! We are humans, the reasons why we make decisions are always multifaceted. You can want to leave to grow your career in ways unavailable to you in your previous role AND want to slam 90% of your coworkers/stakeholders heads through walls at the same time. One of those reasons is mentioned in an interview and the other is mentioned in my therapist's office where I am not judged for violent daydreams, hehe!Give only as much neutral information as needed - both in interviews and in life <<< ---- some of the best advice I have ever received!
I agree that you should just say that you wanted to try working for a startup, and that the startup you are currently at has a really great culture (instead of saying that the company you left had a bad culture). And then you say that you are looking again because you miss "xyz" type of work that you did at the big tech company now that you've had your "startup experience."In other words, make it about the work and only tangentially about the culture.