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Common Interview Questions + Answers: What did you dislike about your last job?

dislike work manager interview question answer

Have you ever been asked about your last/current job when interviewing for a new one? It may seem like an odd question or an invitation to vent – but in reality, the interviewer is looking for an answer that displays your character. More specifically, they’re listening to your tone and attitude to assess whether you’ll A) smack talk your old job (not a good idea!) or B) remain diplomatic when asked for constructive criticism (way better!).

To ace this question, start by saying something positive about your old company, then layer in opportunities for improvement. Finish things off by emphasizing what managerial or organizational style DOES work for you!

Let’s dive into some examples for how to answer the interview question, “What did you dislike about your last job or manager?”

DON’T SAY: “I liked everything about my last job!”😁

Keeping it positive is good. Keeping it so positive that you can’t even think of a single critique? Not so good – especially since you’re planning on leaving! There must be some reason why you’re looking for new employment, so think about those reasons and frame them in a constructive way before you interview.

Remember, this question serves to help you, too! After all, you don’t want to be part of the 72% of jobseekers who started a new job and felt a sense of regret that the role/company was very different from what they had anticipated. By voicing your preferences, you can get an understanding of whether your new position will be better than what you left behind.

DO SAY: “Once the company was acquired, they went in a different direction and it no longer aligned with my professional goals.”📈

Change is inevitable – so if your old company’s strategy or mission no longer fits with what you believe in, that’s a perfectly fair reason to seek new employment. In fact, 33% of acquired workers leave in the first year of their startup’s purchase because they miss the feel and freedoms of a smaller, entrepreneurial organization.

If this is you, circle back to why this new company is more aligned with what you’re looking for. In this case, you’re likely seeking a flatter organizational setup, an emphasis on risk-taking and an autonomous work environment. Or maybe you’re seeking the opposite – but either way, comment on how your new job can offer whatever you’re currently lacking.

DON’T SAY: “My old manager was the worst person ever!”🤬

According to Pew Research Center, low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons why employees quit their jobs during the Great Resignation. If you can relate to one or all of these reasons, you may be tempted to unleash your frustrations on your interviewer. However, you have to be careful about how you approach this.

Listing off complaints might feel good in the moment, but it likely won’t reflect well on you. What will look good is if you can flip your thoughts from grudges to learning opportunities.

For instance, a terribly rigid schedule might have stifled your creativity, but it taught you that a flexible workflow could give you room to do your best work. A boss who didn’t communicate may have put projects on pause, but that experience taught you that you’d prefer to work in a space with instant messaging apps and open communication channels. You get the idea!

@pivotandedge resist the temptation to smack talk and you’ll ace this question!😇😇 #interviewhowtos #interviewquestionsandanswers #recruitertip #commoninterviewquestions ♬ INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow

DO SAY: “I’m looking for more room to grow in my career and utilize my skillset.”🪴

With every new opportunity, you’re likely looking to level up in your career. You might not have anything bad to say about your old company, except for the fact that you outgrew it – and that’s totally okay. Just make sure your answer demonstrates your enthusiasm to keep growing with the new company you’re applying for.

If the duties you perform in your current position have become stagnant, take a look at your new job description for fresh responsibilities you’re excited to learn about and take on. If you have been in the same position for several years, explain how you’ve made an impact (ideally with numerical examples) and how you see your skills taking off further at this new company.

Other good “dislikes” that might fit your situation:

  • Economic downturn
  • Company restructuring
  • Passionate about another industry
  • Not enough professional development
  • Mismatch in work style and environment
  • Seeking fair market compensation
  • Inspired by other company/leadership style
  • Family circumstances

We hope that one of the above suggestions can help you prep an awesome answer. But even if you don’t fit into one of these categories, remember that honesty is key. Pair your real experiences with positive solutions, focus on ‘what’ instead of ‘who’ caused the problem, and research your new company to see whether they have the means to meet your needs!

For more tips like this, make sure to join the Pivot + Edge Talent Network. We’re always sharing our top career insights, hiring tips and all the latest news from our team, and we can’t wait to connect with you!

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