How to Tactfully Answer “What Didn’t You Like About Your Previous Employer?” in an Interview

Job interviews often come with a set of common questions that can be anticipated and prepared for, such as “Why should we hire you?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” However, there are also those less predictable questions that can catch you off guard. One such question is “What didn’t you like about your previous employer?”

This question is tricky for several reasons. It can be tempting to launch into a tirade about your current job’s frustrations, but this approach can backfire, making you seem unprofessional and potentially alienating your interviewer. On the other hand, claiming you have no issues with your previous job can raise doubts about your sincerity and reasons for leaving. Here’s how to navigate this delicate question with grace and professionalism.

Tips for Answering “What Didn’t You Like About Your Previous Employer?”

  1. Stay Professional and Respectful:
    • Even if you had a less-than-ideal experience, it’s crucial to remain professional. Speak respectfully about your previous employer to show maturity and professionalism.
  2. Focus on the Positive:
    • Frame your response in a way that highlights what you are looking for in a new role rather than what you disliked. For example, “I am looking for more opportunities to lead projects,” rather than “I never got the chance to lead in my previous job.”
  3. Be Honest but Tactful:
    • If there were genuine issues, mention them briefly and tactfully. Avoid personal attacks or overly negative language. For instance, “The company culture wasn’t a great fit for me,” is better than, “My boss was terrible.”
  4. Highlight Your Growth:
    • Use the question as an opportunity to discuss what you learned from the challenges you faced. This shows resilience and a growth mindset. For example, “I learned how to navigate different management styles and improve my communication skills.”
  5. Connect to the New Role:
    • Relate your answer to why you are interested in the position you are applying for. This shows the interviewer that you are forward-thinking and focused on your career growth.

Example Responses

  • Example 1: “In my previous job, I found that there were limited opportunities for professional development. While I appreciated the experience I gained, I am eager to find a role where I can continue to grow and take on new challenges. That’s one of the reasons I am excited about this position; it offers the growth opportunities I’m looking for.”
  • Example 2: “The company had a different work culture than what I thrive in. I am looking for an environment that encourages collaboration and innovation, which I see as a strong part of your company’s ethos.”
  • Example 3: “My previous role was heavily focused on tasks that didn’t align with my long-term career goals. I am looking for a position that better matches my skills and allows me to contribute more significantly to the team’s success.”


Answering the question “What didn’t you like about your previous employer?” requires a careful balance of honesty and tact. By maintaining professionalism, focusing on the positive aspects of what you seek in a new role, and highlighting your growth, you can turn a potentially tricky question into an opportunity to showcase your suitability for the job. Remember, the key is to stay positive, be honest, and always relate your answer back to your enthusiasm for the new role.

Navigating interview questions with confidence and poise can significantly impact your job search success. At Bubble Jobs, we’re here to support you every step of the way, offering a range of opportunities and resources to help you land your dream job.

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