Categorize this question under “trick questions” because it is meant to tempt you to vent. Double the temptation if your last job was less then wonderful.

Often my new clients share with me that if they are asked this question during an interview, they will openly describe both the good and bad elements of their last company,“ in the name of honesty” .

That’s a slippery slope. Let me share with you why.

You may be the most ethical, wonderful and pleasant professional ever, but unless you are personal friends with the interviewer, he or she has no way of knowing if your comments are “fair and balanced” or if you are a malcontent.

Why risk the potentially negative exposure?

The general rule is to never say anything negative about your last job to your prospective employer. Certainly there is a time and a place for such discussions, but it’s generally not during a job interview.

Your job interview is your precious window of time that you won through your commitment to your job search goals. Use this time to focus on your future. A positive attitude and positive comments are so important in a job interview. I cannot stress this enough.

So what do you say when your interviewer asks you to answer the question “what didn’t you like about your last job?” Here are several options:

Have you ever had to fire anyone? This is the best answer you could give. No one likes it (at least the majority of people don’t) and it’s a good benign answer. It’s also short and doesn’t open a can of worms. Also, it would be difficult to over talk this answer and open up a can of worms in the process.

You could say:

Letting people go. Sometimes it was necessary but I dislike doing it.

Never fired anyone? You could say:

Reprimanding team members. Sometimes its necessary but I will never learn to like it.

Another example would be:

Actually my last job was a really positive experience. The only thing I didn’t like was the commute.

These answers are intended to help you breeze past this trick question so you can invest your window of time on building the value of who you could be to your potential employer.

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