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Your last job ended miserably — but can you be honest about why you left?

Let’s be honest — everyone has had a job that ‘sucked.’ So while the person interviewing you across the table for a new career can probably relate, you just shouldn’t be so blunt. Things may have gone bust at your last place and whether you left or they asked you to leave, there are ways to package a miserable job experience into lessons for the future.

In the interview process, most employers will ask why you are looking for a new job if you’re currently employed or will want to know about your last job and whether you left on good terms or not. The first key to success in answering this question is to have a prepared, practiced answer.

Bruce Hurwitz, CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, LTD, added that when it comes to being fired from a previous job, it’s best to just be up front and answer directly.

“Look the interviewer straight in the eyes [and say] I was fired,” he says, recommending that you explain what you learned from the experience, giving examples of how you will address the issues at hand in your new role. He gave an example answer that a job seeker could use, saying:

“The boss was a micromanager. His company; his right. But I need freedom to be imaginative, to try new things. I’ve been successful with that in the past. And, to be frank, I explained that to him when I interviewed. Just as I am telling you now that I have to feel creative, that all my talents are being utilized, so I ask you, what is the culture here? Will I be allowed, within reason and company policy, to act to meet goals and targets?”

Depending on your scenario, there are many ways to spin the conversation to your advantage, regardless of the situation leading up to your job search. Here are some easy rules to follow when discussing a previous job that you absolutely loathed:


  • Tell the truth — if the job is/was a bad fit, just say so. Lying will be transparent to the person interviewing you. Or even worse — you’ll land yourself back in the same position.
  • Talk about your strengths — remember to focus on what it is you are good at and what kind of job you want to be doing in the new role. Being able to discuss how you shift your focus from the previous job to the new one will show your aptitude for change.
  • Be passionate — If the last job just didn’t do it for you, then talk about wanting to find that passion and what you think the new position offers up that will be satisfying to you.


  • Trash talk — Don’t talk badly about your boss, co-workers, anybody because you never know whom you are speaking with. Also it’s important to know that if you’re speaking badly about a former job or boss, the interviewer will assume you’ll do the same about the new company or new boss.
  • Complain — Even if your current job is the worst thing ever, don’t let that get the best of you. Remember to check your tone and body language when describing your current position. The fact that you are looking for a job is evident that you want a change so you don’t need to spell it out why. If you’re looking to vent, just tell a friend.
  • Let desperation get the best of you — when you are in a current job that you hate, nothing can really be worse. The negativity you feel for at least eight hours each day can seep into your personal life and make you miserable to be with. Don’t let this feeling of “I need any job” pervade your interview because employers want confident, strong, determined and resilient workers.

 Overall, your best bet is to stay completely objective. Leave emotions at the door and spell out facts as they are. Another great tip is that even if you’re in a job that makes you miserable, identify the parts you actually enjoy so that when you are searching for the next opportunity, you already have a clearly defined list of activities or skills you want to expand your knowledge or experience in.


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