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Addressing a Negative Work Experience in an Interview

Addressing a Negative Work Experience in an Interview

Most of us have had a job that left us feeling overworked, underappreciated, or just downright mad. Often, these jobs are on our resumes. How do you respond when you are asked about a bad job in an interview?

Why did you leave?

It is ok to be honest if asked why you left; just say it with grace. Instead of saying, “They treated their employees like dirt, and I just couldn’t take it anymore,” say, “I felt underappreciated at that job and felt that my skills could be better used elsewhere.” Try to end in a positive, e.g., “But it made me realize how much I loved {recruiting} and I would like to grow my skills at a well-rounded company like {JSG}.” By no means should you humbug your way through the interview as if everything is daisies and roses, but it is important to show the interviewer that you are hopeful for the future with their company.

What were the positives of the experience?

Very few negative experiences are all bad. You can talk about the parts of the job that you did enjoy. Did you learn to love the type of work you were doing? Have you learned to recognize the value of good coworkers? Did you gain some valuable experience in the field? Emphasize these points.

How did you learn from the negatives?

You can also talk about what you learned from the challenging experience. Did you learn the value of good leadership? Did you figure out what you do and don’t want in a company? How did you grow from this? Maybe you learned what does and doesn’t motivate you. Explain how this and other past experiences have molded your career path.

Past experiences are just that—part of our past! Do not let a negative experience impact you to the point where it jeopardizes future jobs. It does not deserve that power over you. Rise like a Phoenix from the ashes!

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