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

a picture of business person and 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 planning and understanding how to structure a correct answer. Don’t fall trap of the opportunity to vent. You need to take a step back. And consider possibilities to improve your previous job function. Or 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 effectively answer this interview question.

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'll make it appear as though you’ve given thought to your previous position. And 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 department manager 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 gets 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 and 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. And 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 getting asked this question, avoid answers that get 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.” The 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:

  • Answers that speak negatively about your previous employer
  • Any answers that speak negatively about the job function
  • Answers that speak negatively about tasks that you had to perform
  • Or any answers that seem as though they are about you having a person gain versus the company

Structuring Your Answer For Success

The best way to structure your answers is to consider putting a strength and weakness together. And then yet another strength into the structure of your answer. In this way, you can ensure that the negative questioning isn’t leading you on what 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 getting 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 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 getting 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 required to better the company's betterment. 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. To come across as 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 get perceived as a leader.

The second thing you want the interviewer to think. Are those issues from your last job are a perfect fit for the job you are applying for. Meaning, be sure you aren’t saying that you are a problem solver when applying for a customer support role. Saying you are a “people person” would be more applicable for that type of 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

And if the interviewer asks you what you like the most about your last job. Then be sure to recognize that this is a different interview question. It's 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 could 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 didn’t have that opportunity, which is okay.

Example three

We did some amazing things at [X company]. And although 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 want to consider simplifying the process as much as I can in my next role.

Example five

Our team was extremely collaborative. I loved that about how we worked together at [X company]. Sometimes, that made us lose focus of the other team members we needed to include to operate more efficiently. I want to help ensure our teams are being as cross-functional as possible going into my next role.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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