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How to Answer When You’re Asked About a Bad Job Experience

The question will undoubtedly come up in a job interview in some form or another: Have you ever disagreed with a co-worker or boss? How have you dealt with a bad office culture in the past? Tell me about a situation where a co-worker let you down.

It’s easy to frame your response to these questions in a negative way. That won’t make you look good to the recruiter, though. The question then becomes, how do you answer when asked about a bad former work experience? Here are four key tips:

Don’t Lie

First, be honest about your bad experience. Don’t try to gloss it over and say that everything was fine when, actually, it wasn’t. It’s best to be honest about your experience, because lying will only make you appear untrustworthy and deceptive. Those aren’t qualities you want the hiring manager or recruiter associating with you! There are ways to be honest about your past experiences without coming across in a negative light.

Don’t Be Bitter

Never come across as bitter; this makes you appear immature and sullen. When asked about a bad experience, don’t say things like “I’m so glad I don’t work there anymore” or “The company made a mistake letting me go.” First of all, this doesn’t score you any points with the hiring manager. Second, it isn’t believable — a good recruiter will be able to tell immediately that you haven’t moved on.

Don’t Bash Your Former Boss

Bashing your former boss or co-workers leaves only one thing in the mind of the recruiter or hiring manager: This candidate will say the same things when they leave this position. This doesn’t get you anywhere, and it doesn’t make you an attractive candidate. No one wants to work with someone who harbors such negativity.

Focus on the Positives

Here’s the golden rule to follow when asked about bad experiences in past positions: focus on the positives. Rather than dwelling on what went wrong, describe it briefly, and then discuss what you learned from the situation. Tell the recruiter what you would do differently if the same thing happened again. Finally, talk about what you’re hoping to find in a new job that you didn’t have in the past position.

For more tips and tricks on nailing your next big interview, give High Profile a call or visit us online. Our staffing service is here to help you advance your career and find the position that you deserve.