While you could probably talk at length about the reasons you dislike your job, an interview for a new one is not the time to air your complaints. When an interviewer asks how you feel about your current job, like what you like and dislike about it, it’s important to be strategic with your answer.
We’ll explain what interviewers really want to know when they ask what you like or dislike about your current position. Then, we’ll share tips to help you craft a great response and show you some samples of what a winning answer looks like.
Why interviewers ask about your current job
A job interview is usually the first time a hiring manager gets to meet you face to face. Your resume has already told them about your skills; now, they’re trying to get a feel for what you’re like as a worker.
Asking about your current job helps a hiring manager understand what aspects of your work you enjoy and what motivates you. On the other hand, they also want to know what discourages or frustrates you and what’s pushing you to leave your current employer. Off of these things will help them determine whether the position is one you’ll be compatible with.
What hiring managers look for in an answer
Interviewers want to see if you can articulate what’s not working for you in your current job and what aspects you’d like to be different about a new one. Your responses will tell them if the job has what you’re looking for and whether the position will challenge you. They also want to see if your needs line up with what the company can offer in terms of job duties, opportunities for advancement and so on.
A hiring manager also wants to see how you talk about your current employer. Do you disparage your current company or boss? Or are you able to talk about your likes and dislikes in a tactful, professional way? How you respond to this question will give them a glimpse of your character, which is an important factor in choosing the right candidate.
How to answer the question “What do you like and dislike about your current job?”
Plan your response
It’s not every day we’re given the opportunity to spell out our feelings about our job in black and white. This is your chance, so it’s a good idea to think it through ahead of time. Not only will planning your response ahead of time help you strategize how to position the negative aspects; it’ll also help you gain clarity about exactly what you’re looking for in a role, which may narrow down the number of positions you’re applying for.
Keep it positive
Even when talking about your dislikes, it’s best not to focus too much on the negatives lest you come off as a complainer. Instead, position your dislikes as opportunities you’d like to have, like the ability to work more independently, take on challenging new projects, or gain leadership experience.
Highlight your skills
Craft your answer in a way that gives you a chance to weave in your strengths. For example, “I’ve always been great at coming up with new ideas, but there wasn’t a lot of room for creativity in my last job. I’m looking for a place where I can contribute suggestions that will help us serve our customers more effectively.”
Cite factors beyond your control
One strategy for answering ”what do you dislike about your job?” is to indicate things that aren’t necessarily anyone’s fault, but that mean the job is no longer a fit. For example, “One of the main reasons I was hired was to be the point person for our Spanish-speaking customers. My company recently decided to close its South American offices, which means I no longer get to do the thing that drew me to the position in the first place.”
How not to answer
Bashing your employer
Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your current or former employer. Not only does it reflect poorly on your professionalism, but word may get back to the very people you’re speaking badly about, which could damage your relationships.
When citing your dislikes, don’t mention individual people or departments. Instead, keep your negatives focused on tasks, processes or qualities. Instead of “my boss required us to let him know where we were at all times,” try this: “I didn’t have the autonomy to manage my own time. I want to feel like my employer trusts my ability to get my work done.”
Once your interviewer has broached the subject of your current job, be prepared for a follow up question like “why are you leaving?” They might also ask you to expand upon why you want this job in particular.
By keeping your response positive and connecting what you’re looking for to the job for which you’re applying, you’ll help the interviewer see that it’s a strong fit while maintaining your professional, polished appearance.