Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and our Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for nearly 15 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

Q: How do I answer “What did you like least about your last job?” in an interview?

What should I say when an interviewer asks me what I liked least about a job I previously worked at? — Mike

“What did you like least about your last job?” is about as much fun to answer as the notorious “What is your greatest weakness?” because, in both circumstances, your interviewer is asking you for a negative answer. Luckily, with a little effort, you can answer this tricky interview question with confidence.  

Be prepared for the question

Don’t walk into the interview room without preparing a response to this question. The last thing you want to do is be caught off-guard and blurt out a response that tanks the interview.

As you’re preparing for your job search, reflect on your most recent position. Consider what could have been better about your role, your relationship with your boss, or the organization. Even the best jobs could be better in some way — after all, why would you be looking for a new job if everything was perfect?

Be honest, but diplomatic

If your last job was a total nightmare, there’s no point in pretending that it was a dream — recruiters can see right through those lies. However, you don’t have to bash your previous employer in the process, either.

If you and your former employer parted ways on bad terms, be tactful when discussing the situation. It’s alright to say that there were aspects of your previous role you wish were different.

Focus on tasks, not people

Whenever possible, avoid discussing particular people that made your work challenging. Instead, focus on tasks or aspects of the work that you wish were different. For instance, if you’re a people person who had to deal with an extraordinary amount of paperwork in your last job, perhaps you can say that you would have liked a better balance between these activities so you could focus on the areas where you performed best.

Don’t focus on an essential skill

If you’re currently interviewing for a position that’s similar to your previous role, avoid mentioning aspects of the job that are sure to be the same. For example, if you hated how much you had to travel for your last job and this new opportunity also involves travel, don’t use this complaint as part of your interview response.

In fact, if the aspect you liked least about your previous role will be a critical part of this next position, you may want to reconsider whether it’s the job for you.

Tell a positive story

Redirect the conversation back to the job opportunity at hand. How has your most recent role prepared you for this new position? What did you learn about yourself in the process? For instance, perhaps your last role helped you clarify exactly what type of company you want to work for and the type of role you want to serve within that organization. Use these points to bring the conversation back to why you’re the right candidate to fill this employer’s open position.

Not feeling confident about your interview skills? Work with a TopInterview coach today!

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