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“So… What Didn’t You Like About Your Last Job/Employer?”

By Amy @BubbleJobs

As we’ve said before, when it comes to job interviews, there are always a couple of questions that are guaranteed to appear. From “Why should we hire you?” to “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”, these questions are almost a dead cert – so it’s always worth putting some time and effort in ahead of time to ensure you’re not left struggling to find a decent answer.

Now, in addition to these guaranteed questions, there’s also a collection of possible questions which might crop up… but it all depends on the employer, their approach to interviewing and what they actually want to know about you as a candidate. The “What didn’t you like about your last job/employer?” definitely falls into this category.

Needless to say, this one’s tricky for a couple of reasons. The main issue? When it comes to answering this particular question, it can be all too easy and tempting to break into a full blown rant about how much you hate your current boss, how you’re sick of being treated as a dogsbody and how you can’t wait to quit your rubbish job.

The problem? Rant too much and you could end up talking yourself out of the job and alienating the interviewer who might be on good terms with your current boss (some industries are extremely small!). On the other side of the coin, if you say there’s nothing you don’t like about your last job or employer, you’re going to leave the interviewer confused as to why you’re looking to move on – and it could leave them as to how truthful you’re actually being – I mean, no one likes every aspect of their job do they?!

When it comes to answering this question, the key is to try and be as professional and respectable to your old employer and position as possible. OK, so you probably don’t like them or it (you are interviewing for a new job after all!), but that doesn’t necessarily give you the right to bad-mouth them in a professional capacity, particularly when you’re talking to a prospective new employer.

Hmm, so what should you say then? Well, just like any other interview question, it’s important to be as truthful and professional as you can be… but remember, tact can go a long way! Think realistically about the specifics that you didn’t like or agree with in your last role or place of work – and try and pinpoint exactly what the issue is.

By all means, say you didn’t necessarily believe in some of the practices your last employer had – or you didn’t enjoy some of the particular responsibilities you had – but remember to be respectful to your old employer. By this I mean say you know why they used a particular business model – but say that for you as an individual, it just didn’t work – and give reasons. For example, you could say that you work better to set KPIs and objectives as an individual – whereas your last employer’s business model was all to do with reaching team targets.

Remember, it’s all about trying to be objective and professional – so try and keep personal feelings out of it. Yes, you might have had a number of blazing rows with your last employer and think they’re a total loser who should in no way be in a management position – but it’s probably best not to admit that in a job interview. Again, if you want to make a comment on your old employer, try and keep it professional – and talk about their management style, rather than their personality and personal attributes.

Like I said earlier, this question is particularly tricky to answer because it’s all about finding the right balance in your answer. But there is one answer that’s always guaranteed to succeed: saying your old job wasn’t “challenging enough”. This one is successful for two reasons. Firstly, employers want candidates who are ambitious and want to be challenged – so by saying your old job wasn’t challenging enough, you’re telling the interviewer exactly what they want to hear. And secondly, this answer isn’t exactly negative towards your old employer – so you don’t have to worry about sounding unprofessional and bitter.

As ever, I’m keen to hear what you guys think. Have you successfully answered this question in the past? Or are you a recruiter who has some great tips on how to approach this question? Leave a comment below.

One Comment

  1. nisha gupta

    “This is a really really worthy and informative posts..
    I find it quite interest able and nice..
    Thank you so much for sharing this..”

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