Answering questions like, “What do you like least about your last job/current job?” can get tricky. And the wrong response can derail your job interview!
You see, employers don’t want to hear you badmouth or complain about a position, even if they ask a question that seems to invite this.
So in this article, I’m going to share how to answer this question correctly – without saying anything that might worry the hiring manager!
The best way to answer what you liked least about a recent job is to approach the question with a positive, casual tone and name one thing that you felt could have been better, but then name some positive aspects about the job, too.
So you’re starting by answering their question directly, but you’re not going too deep into the topic and you’re not complaining or bad-mouthing too much.
Most importantly, you wrap up with some positive aspects of the job so that the employer knows you’re able to make the best of any situation and that you have a good overall attitude.
You always want to demonstrate that you’re able to stay positive and motivated at work even when things aren’t 100% perfect. This type of answer will make the employer feel a LOT more comfortable hiring you.
Employers are afraid of hiring someone who’s going to be negative, or someone who will get discouraged or feel down if things get tough in the company.
So the answer strategy above will show that you’re positive and resilient even if there are things you didn’t like in your job.
Now that you know the steps to answering, let’s look at examples of how to answer this interview question.
“The company was growing quickly, so it was a bit disorganized and I often had multiple supervisors and senior team members giving me different instructions. However, I think this was a great opportunity to improve my ability to work under pressure and my communication skills. For example, I had to learn to communicate clearly and quickly to clarify with my managers and team if there was a conflict in what I had been asked to do. I enjoyed most aspects of the job and I ended up liking working in such a fast-paced environment in the end. It just took some adjustment. It was a great learning experience for me.”
“The thing I like least about my job right now is the limited opportunities to advance and be promoted in the company. It’s a great organization and I’ve learned a lot here, but it’s such a small company that it’s difficult to find ways to move up unless somebody retires or leaves. My group is only four people, for example. That’s one reason I’m job searching right now; I’m looking for a larger organization that can offer more opportunities in the long-term for upward movement and career progression.”
(As an added step, you can mention one or two things you’re looking for in a new job, too. You can see this in the second sample answer above. While it isn’t necessary, it’s an option to consider).
The first big mistake to avoid: Don’t take this as an invitation to badmouth your last company. That’s not what an employer wants when they ask what you like least about your former job.
In fact, that’s possibly the biggest mistake when answering any and all interview questions. Badmouthing will make you sound negative and will cost you job offers, so be careful to never badmouth a company, boss, or team member.
Another mistake: Don’t respond with a long list of things you disliked. It’s best to stick to one thing. That will keep everything simple and will give you time to also share some things you did like about the job – like I explained in the steps and answer examples above.
Now, they may also ask what you like most about your last job. If they ask this job interview question, it’s much easier to handle.
Just make sure to show enthusiasm, sound positive overall, and name one or two things that you enjoyed about the job, work, and company.
You can mention learning opportunities, the work environment, the team, something that this previous employer helped you improve (like your confidence, your ability to communicate with customers, etc.)
So there isn’t one “right” answer when they ask what you liked about your last job, and this is much easier than when they ask what you didn’t like.
“I love how the company offered learning opportunities and seemed to care about helping their employees develop and grow professionally. They had weekly lunch meetings where we’d learn a new topic, they offered tuition reimbursement, and all of the senior leadership team was very approachable and supportive.”
This type of answer makes you sound appreciative, positive, and energetic about learning and growing professionally, which should impress the hiring manager when they ask this question.
In the final section below, we’ll talk about how to practice and prepare before your interview
If you read everything above, you now know how to answer questions about what you like least in a recent job and what you liked most, too.
To prepare for your interview, think of one or two things you didn’t like about your current or most recent job, and then think of a few things that you did like. That way, you can follow the answer steps above to sound positive and avoid badmouthing the company!
And as a final action step, give a few sample answers by recording yourself with your smartphone voice recorder app (every modern smartphone should have one). That way, you can see how you sound when you answer and make any adjustments if needed.
That’s how to ace this type of interview question in your job search.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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