Don’t bash your previous employer.

We’ve all had jobs with terrible managers and coworkers who made every day miserable. When asked about such a job during an interview, it’s tempting to throw that employer under the bus and describe how every day was worse than the last and how toxic the company or your boss was. But a hiring manager asking why you left your previous employer isn’t looking for information about that organization. The question is just another way — a great way — to get a better understanding of you. What you say about others and how you say it speaks volumes about the kind of person you are and what kind of employee you might turn out to be. If you’re willing slam your previous employer, the interviewer could easily imagine that you might do it again to the company where you’re hoping to land a new job.

The situation is not that different from people we all know who gossip and put others down. It might be a little entertaining at first, but it can lead to the suspicion that when we’re not around, those people might well be talking negatively about us. So, in a nutshell, during an interview, don’t let yourself walk into a trap of your own making. Instead, when asked about your last job, focus first on the positive reasons why you want to move ahead in your career and then, in discussing your previous job, say something positive (for example, “even though it gave me excellent experience, I felt the need for a change because …”). Ignore or minimize any conflicts or issues you may have had there. It will help you smell like a rose, not stinkweed.


Ryan has worked in staffing for the last eight years. Two years ago, he took the leap to develop a firm whose mission was to elevate staffing to a professional service that treats our candidates as well as we treat our clients. He is very proud of his team and constantly seeks to celebrate their victories together while quietly learning from their losses. 

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