Job Interview Question

What did you like or dislike about your previous jobs?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Asking what you liked or disliked about your previous job sounds like a ‘get-to-know-you’ question, but don’t get too comfortable.  This is another way to get at your strengths and weaknesses, and you can trip yourself up.  Always remember your primary focus is to sell yourself for this job.

Be strategic.

Think about things that you especially liked about your past roles and that are related to this job.  Think about anything that would support the case for hiring you.  What factors or tasks from your past jobs will be crucial to your success in this role?

When you talk about what you disliked, try to choose something that won’t be a factor in this new job. Don’t unthinkingly tell them something you hated about your last job that is related to one of the main functions of this one.   Easy things to choose might be the hours, the commute, the travel time, the limitations of a small company (if you’re applying at a large one) or the anonymity of a large corporation (if you’re applying at a small company).  Try to stay away from things like complaints about your boss or co-workers.

Try to be positive.

Obviously, what you disliked will be a negative for you, but you never want to be too negative in what you say when answering job interview questions because that negativity reflects on you.  They won’t remember the details about your answer, they’ll just remember your bad attitude about it.  It will influence how they think about you as a candidate.

Here’s an answer I would give:

“What I liked about all my previous jobs is that they were all strong communication opportunities where when I worked hard, I was able to make things happen and I was able to be successful.

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What I didn’t like was when I wasn’t able to be successful.  Or where I perceived that I wasn’t able to be as successful as I should be, or where I had to work through issues that shouldn’t have been there.  I can’t stand bureaucracy, or having anyone stand in the way of the success of the team that I’m on.”

That answer tells the interviewer very clearly that I am driven, and very focused on achievement and success.  Those qualities were critical to the roles and duties I performed in sales and sales management.  In that answer, I added another layer of “here’s why you want me for the job.”  That’s what you should try to do in your answer, too.

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