In the Hot Seat: What to say – what did you like least about your last job?

By Sean Haggard | August 4

Samantha asks:

How to answer the interview question, what did you like least about your last job?

I enjoyed my last job that I had, the hours were great, and I loved the responsibility’s that I had, but the only thing that I did not like about my job was the new manager my owners had hired. They were extremely rude, overbearing and verbally abusive. How can I say that in a positive way? Or is there something else I can say?

This question is partially a trap.

When interviewers ask “what did you like least about your last job?”, we are really trying to find out about your personality, your work habits, and your goals.

  • Are you a complainer?
  • Do you exaggerate?
  • Are you going to leave for minor reasons?
  • What do you want out of this position that you didn’t get from your last one?

Don’t go negative!

You have the right idea about saying something in a positive way. While it may be completely true that your managers were verbally abusive, I will be skeptical. I might think you are over-dramatic, that you’re just making up an excuse, or that you’re going to say bad things about me after you leave my team.

Also, don’t go petty. If I hear that the only thing you didn’t like at your old job was that they didn’t have a Pepsi machine, I’m going to wonder even more why you’re leaving (and if you’re truly leaving over that, I probably don’t want you!).

Be honest, but try to rephrase your thoughts. Maybe you could say…

“I loved the hours and responsibilities that my last job provided, but I’m really looking for a position where I can work closer with the manager”
“My last job provided good opportunities, but I’m looking to … [increase my leadership skills, work closer with a team, learn new skills, build a career, etc.].”

I hope this helps. Good luck!