Returning to a former employer is more common than you think, and it could be a relevant situation for you in the future. People can leave their past employers because of family obligations, partner relocations, or to take another opportunity (that may not work out). Whatever the situation, life happens. The best thing you can do is to always leave on good terms; you never want to burn a bridge that you might need to cross again in the future.
When interviewing with a former employer, the following two points are most important to keep in mind:
1. Keep it positive
When explaining why you left or why you are looking to return, don't dwell on the negative. Instead, talk about how after you left (for whatever reason), that you realized how important finding the right cultural fit was to you and your work. Be sure to explain to them why you loved working for their company, and why you missed the environment and their community or culture.
Your former employer wants to know that you are committed to working for them and that you are not settling by coming back to their company after jumping ship for what may have turned out to be a bad opportunity. At the end of the day, you used to work for them and now want to return, so bring up positive experiences that you have had with them and why that excites you to come back.
2. Show your growth
If you've been gone for just six months or even five or more years, take this opportunity to highlight the new skills, knowledge, and experience you have gained since they last worked with you. Especially if you are looking to go into a higher-level role than the one you left.
Highlight your time away as a learning and professional growth opportunity they can benefit from by bringing you back. What you have that other applicants do not have is your knowledge about the company. Show your personal and professional growth, but do not forget to mention that you are uniquely familiar with their policies, culture, and work--more than other external candidates. If you left on good terms, as you should, they will be pleased to know that they would not have to spend as much time training you as they would with other applicants.
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