Have you ever heard a friend bad mouth a mutual friend and thought, “Wow, I wonder what he says behind MY back?” Keep this in mind the next time you’re interviewing for a job. When you complain about your previous boss, coworkers, or business, not only do you sound like Debbie Downer, you’ll likely be perceived as making excuses, trying to hide something, or very possibly assumed to be the problem and not part of the solution. Additionally, when you bad mouth your last job, the interviewer can easily assume, and you’re giving them great reason to, that you’ll spread gossip about them when you leave. This is especially important for contract or short-term gigs, as the employer already knows that you’ll be moving on and won’t want to risk you leaving as a PR nightmare.

Debbie Downer

We’ve all had bad jobs or bad bosses (except for me, I’ve loved every single place and every single person I’ve ever worked for…) and it’s natural to vent, but keep the venting at home and in private. Do not spew your hate online, and don’t speak ill of your previous employer in your next interview. You don’t have to make it sound like it was rainbows and puppy dogs, you are leaving for goodness sake, if it was, would you be interviewing in the first place? They know there is a reason, but make it about the fact that you are going TO someplace new, not that you are running FROM your current place – big difference! If there was a negative aspect of your previous job that may come up in an interview, take the time now to write out and practice a few responses with a more positive spin. Try turning the situation into something that you are looking for in a new position instead of stating what was missing from your last one.

  • “My last boss was a micro-managing control freak.” = “What I would love in my next position is to have the freedom to utilize my creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.”
  • “In my last position I was overworked and underpaid.” = “I’m a problem solver and enjoy collaborating with coworkers to accomplish a goal. What sort of metrics do you employ to keep things on task?”
  • “My previous company was unethical and money-grubbing.” = “While I was looking into your company, I was very impressed with the charities that you work with. That is definitely something that I look for in a prospective employer.”

Just remember what Thumper’s father told him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”