Dear Bev: I hate my boss, I hate my job! But how do I say that in an interview?

My advice is that you shouldn't, at least not in those words. Negative comments are a sure fire way to be crossed off a candidate list.

It's true that dissatisfaction drives a lot of candidates into the job market, but as one HR professional said, "There are a million and one reasons to give for wanting to leave a job. The last reason you want to use is one that's negative."

Very few people will say outright they hate their boss or that he or she is a jerk, but if you imply the same idea then be prepared for the consequences. Expect to be asked why you don't like your boss and to give specific examples. Don't be surprised to be asked what your boss thinks of you. If there was ever a wrong turn for an interview to take, this is it.

Criticizing a current or former employer isn't a great idea either. Interviewers want to know you're positive and can be flexible. Complaining raises the probability that you'll be a high maintenance employee in a fast moving media environment. Criticize more than one employer and suddenly you're the one with the problem, not the companies you worked for.



I asked my ad hoc group of HR professionals and hiring managers how to put a positive spin on a negative experience. Here are some suggestions:

"My boss and I don't see eye to eye on his/her strategic direction for the company."

"We've had some philosophical disagreements and it's important for me to believe in the direction a company is moving."

"Even though, I haven't always agreed with my boss, it's given me an opportunity to work through those disagreements in a professional way and learn from the experience."

"My role has changed and it isn't what I was hired for. It's not what I want to be doing with my career."

"I have reached my potential at the company and don't see any opportunity for growth."

"I'm looking for more responsibility and there's no indication my boss will be leaving anytime soon."

"I want to be able to make more money."

"The company has had a lot of challenges and changed direction. I feel it's time to move on."

Most of these answers will lead to more questions and probing but you'll be starting out from a positive and that's the right tone for an interview.

1 comment about "Dear Bev: I hate my boss, I hate my job! But how do I say that in an interview?".
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  1. Jim Watson from jwatsonexecutivesearch Inc, February 23, 2009 at 10:58 a.m.

    another great one in your series jw

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