Answering "What Did You Like Least About Your Last Job?"

When you hear the question, “What did you like least about your last job?” you might be thinking to yourself, fantastic! This is an opportunity for me to tell my new employer how they should treat my job function. But you are wrong!

Answering a negative interview question like this requires some planning and understanding on how to structure a correct answer. Don’t fall trap to the opportunity to vent. You need to take a step back, consider possibilities to improve your previous job function and lay it out in a way that’s going to make your new employer respect the way you handle yourself in the workplace.

Let’s get started on what you need to know to answer this interview question effectively.

Negative Interview Questions Like This

Negative interview questions like, “What did you like least about your last job?” are intended to trigger a negative answer. And that’s usually what makes it a tricky interview question. What you want to do is be prepared with an answer that will make it appear as though you’ve given thought to how the position you were in could be performed better.

When answering a negative interview question like this, avoid answering with yourself in mind. Meaning, picture yourself as the manager of that department and consider what the efficiency improvement might be that you could make.

For example, an improvement that you could make would be ensuring that communication is made between departments if there wasn’t enough. Let’s say you are in a software engineering role. You could say that one improvement you could make would be about communicating with customer service as well as marketing, more frequently. That’s a constructive item that you can add to your answer.

But before you use that as your answer, be sure to read the rest of the guide so that you can learn how to put together the ideal answer with that “con” of your job in mind.

What To Avoid In Your Answer

When being asked this question, avoid answers that are centered around yourself. For example, don’t say things like, “I didn’t like that I had to jobs that I wasn’t comfortable with.” Reality is, all jobs will come with tasks that you might not feel comfortable with. How is that going to communicate something positive to your interviewer and hiring manager? Avoid that.

Here are the types of answers that you might want to avoid:

Structuring Your Answer For Success

The best way to structure your answers is to consider putting a strength, a weakness and then another strength into the structure of your answer. In this way you can ensure that you aren’t being led on by the negative questioning that the interviewer is asking you for. Meaning, you aren’t using this as an opportunity to speak negatively about your previous employer. But you are still able to answer constructively.

Here’s an example of that, “I loved everyone I worked with at my previous job. But I felt that in that particular job function, I wasn’t being challenged enough. Though I absolutely recognize that the role I was playing for the company was required and beneficial to the health of the organization.”

That answer gives you two strengths and one weakness. In that vein, you are being open and honest but eliminating the potential issue of you venting about previous employers.

Ending on a positive note will go a long way when you answer a question like this. You can also structure your answer to end on a positive note about yourself, too.

Something like, “I wasn’t being challenged enough and I love to solve problems.” An answer like that will show that you are willing to “dig your heels in” and get your hands dirty with the work that’s required to make a betterment of the company. Ending on a positive note regarding your own personal skills or desires is absolutely okay as well.

What You Want The Interviewer To Think

The first thing you want the interviewer to think is that you are professional. In order to come across professional, you want to avoid any negative commentary about the last position or job as much as possible. Be constructive. When you do that, you’ll be perceived as a leader.

The second thing you want the interviewer to think is that your issues with your last job are a perfect fit for the job you are apply for. Meaning, be sure you aren’t saying that you are a problem solver when you are applying for a customer support role. Saying you are a “people person” would be more applicable for that type of a position. Keep that in mind when you are targeting the ideal response you want to receive from your interviewer.

What If They Ask What You Like Most

If the interviewer asks you what you like the most about your last job, be sure to recognize that this is a different interview question. It is often confused that these two questions are the same. That is what causes poor performance of the interview answers. In order to answer this question, it is recommended that you read our guide here.

Related: Answering "What Did You Like Most About Your Last Job?"

5 Best Example Answers To “What Did You Like Least About Your Last Job?”

Example one

I stayed with my last employer for [X years]. I was very appreciative of what we were able to solve as a team and the progress we were able to make. But I felt like the job was becoming a little too comfortable for me. And I want to break out of my comfort zone.

Example two

I thoroughly enjoyed the position I had at [X company]. But it was time for me to consider career advancements. And the company I was with simply didn’t have that opportunity, which is okay.

Example three

We did some amazing things at [X company]. Though, I felt we could have had more frequent team communication. That’s something I’d love to ensure I pay close attention to going into my next role.

Example four

It’s hard for me to find a negative about my last job. I’m appreciative of what opportunity I was given. But if I had to pick one thing it might be our sense of organization. We used project management tools but maybe not enough. I’d like to consider simplifying the process as much as I can going into my next role.

Example five

Our team was extremely collaborative. I loved that about how we worked together at [X company]. But sometimes that made us lose focus of the other team members we needed to include in order to operate more efficiently. I’d like to help make sure our teams are being as cross-functional as possible going into my next role.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams.

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