We apply for a new job for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we just want to earn more money, or change our routine, perhaps move to another place, meet new people, see new places. More often than not, however, there is something we dislike about our present place of work. It can be something minor, but it can also be something big, the main reason why we consider leaving our present employer.

Hiring managers primarily try to understand the following two things:

  • Whether you won’t dislike the same thing in their company.
  • If you do not want to leave your present job for some minor issue, something that shouldn’t be a reason for leaving a job. Employees who leave for such reasons typically hop from one job to another. And nobody wants to hire such an employee. So be careful about your choice.

You should do a good research about your future place of work. Because while you do not have to say the entire true in the interviews, you can still make a mistake. For example, you can say that you are leaving because the job is too repetitive, and you do not feel challenged intellectually, while the same routine awaits you in the new position… Needless to say, they would not hire you in that case.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this tricky interview question. You will find some typical choices in our selection, but also some unorthodox answers. I also recommend you to check answers to all 15 most common interview questions. Keep in mind that they can structure the question differently as well, for example “What type of work environment do you dislike working in“, or “What are some positive aspects of your last employment/employer? What are some negative aspects?” I will touch on these questions later in the article.


7 sample answers to “What do you dislike about your job” interview question

  1. I dislike the authoritative leadership they have in place. Look, I have many good ideas, and I tried to move them forward, trying to help the company. But from my position I am not allowed to suggest any improvements. I am supposed to follow the orders of my superior, and that’s it. I am looking forward for a place of work where they value creative thinking and where managers are receptive to the feedback from their subordinates… This is not the case with my present employer.
  2. What I really dislike is that there is no room for growth in that company. It’s a small business, and as an accountant I cannot really move up the career ladder. Surely, I learned a lot with them, and I also believe that I helped them to save a lot of money with my work. But I am getting older, and I believe that I should have a better job at the moment, perhaps a role of a financial manager, or leader of a team of accounts. That’s why I want to leave them, and apply for a job in your corporation, where I see more opportunities for career growth.
  3. There’s nothing I dislike about the job in particular. It’s just that I feel I am not rewarded enough for the work I do for them. Surely, maybe they do not have the budget to pay me more, and that’s fine. But I honestly believe that with my experience I should be earning more than 50K annually. I have a family, two small children, and a better salary is really needed with all the expenses we have right now.
  4. I dislike everything about my job in the publishing house. The rush, the deadlines, the climate in the office, the constant expectations to come up with a new story, something that will grab attention of the readers. I am just tired of this way of work, after long fifteen years in the business. That’s why I am sitting here in front of you, applying for a job for which I certainly look overqualified. But I have to change my career, and a simple manual work, in a calm place, is exactly the kind of job I am looking for right now.
  5. I do not dislike anything in particular, I’d just love to move in a different direction in my programming career. You see, the company I work for designs games for gaming consoles, but I’d like to focus more on artificial intelligence and robotics. You are one of the leading players in this field, at least in our state, and that’s why I decided to try my luck with you. But I certainly cannot say anything bad about my present employer–they treat me well, and I like their company culture. It’s just that I would like to work on different projects.
  6. Speaking honestly, I simply didn’t fit well to the team in the workplace. They are mostly older people, they know each other for years, and I had a feeling that they considered me a competition, or even an enemy, because I tried to come up with some new ideas, and challenged the status quo in the company. I can clearly feel that since then the atmosphere in the workplace deteriorated, and my colleagues are sometimes purposely blocking me in my work. I tried to discuss things openly with them, but it didn’t bring any results.
  7. Speaking frankly, I dislike my salary. Now, salary isn’t the most important thing for me. But when you have a family, and bills to pay, items add up pretty quickly, and you easily end up with an empty bank account. I know that people with my job earn better, in many companies in this area. And I see no reason why I shouldn’t earn more. I want to assure you that I discussed the issue with my manager. But they said that in the current state of economy they could not offer me anything better. So here I am, interviewing for the job with you, because your salary offer is much better.


Ensure them that you discussed the problem with your superiors

To dislike something is one thing, to leave the company without discussing the issue with your superiors another. Of course not everything can be changed, and it makes no sense to debate the company culture, or general leadership style, with your direct superior.

But if you dislike your salary, or a behavior of one of your colleagues, or perhaps the fact that they haven’t promoted you for years, you should ensure the interviewers that you discussed the issue with the responsible people from the company. You tried, but they didn’t react positively, and that’s the reason why you eventually decided to look for a new job. See sample answers no. 6 and no. 7 as a good illustration of this explanation.

* May also interest you: How to dress for an interview – 5 things to consider when choosing your clothes.

Feel free to dislike everything, if you opt for a career change

Career change is a big step, and if you decided to make it, you should have a good reason. Such a good reason can be a burnout, a complete loss of motivation, or the fact that you dislike absolutely everything about your present job.

When you are changing your career, you will typically earn much less in your new job, and you will have to learn a lot of things. That’s why it is crucial to present strong enough arguments in the interview, to backup your decision. Disliking everything is definitely a strong argument. See sample answer no. 4 as a good example of this situation.


What type of work environment do you dislike working in?

If they ask about working environment in particular, the most important thing is to make sure you do not mention something that’s typical for their working environment, that means your new place of work. Let me show you an example. Imagine that the company promotes open offices, and basically you have no real privacy in the workplace (unless you go for a toilet or cigarette break of course :)). Saying that you hated lack of privacy in your previous job would definitely be a showstopper in such a case in your job interview. Keep it on your mind and do a good research before going there.

Another alternative is saying that you are flexible adaptable, and do not really dislike any type of working environment. Sure enough each concept has some pluses and minuses. You won’t love everything, but you also do not look for perfection, since you know it doesn’t exist in this world. Unless something really toxic happens in the workplace (such as cunning or bullying behavior), you are good to go, and can enjoy working in any type of place.


What are some positive aspects of your last employment/employer? What are some negative aspects?

I also want to briefly touch on this version of a question, since I’ve seen it quite commonly on job application forms lately. And no doubt they use it in the interviews as well. In my opinion, the most important thing is to focus on positive aspects primarily. Nobody wants to hire an employee who’s bitter and sees only the bad things in the job. Even if you had a really bad experience in the last job, you can praise the things you learned, and how the negative experience made you stronger.

It is also important not blaming others. You should accept also your party of a responsibly. Let me show you a good example. Instead of saying “I had a terrible boss“, you should say that the negative aspect of your job was “A bad (or not ideal) relationship with the superior“. It may seem like the same thing for an outsider, but a skilled interviewer see a profound difference here. Pointing out “a terrible boss”, you in a way say everything was their mistake–they treated you unfairly, everything bad was their guilt. Calling it “a bad relationship” you accept your part of the guilt--the two of you simply didn’t get along well together, for one reason or another. Sure, maybe the boss is primarily to blame, but you accept that you could also do something better…


At the end of the day, salary matters

Of course it’s nice to claim that salary is not the deciding factor for you, that you see a meaningful purpose in your job, and do not care whether you earn 20K or 100K annually. At the end of the day, however, you are neither a a hermit nor an outcast. You live in the society, and you have bills to pay each month (which is getting tougher and tougher with the inflation we see right now), and perhaps you have also kids to feed.

Therefor it is all right to say that you dislike the salary in your present job, as long as you manage to communicate your message in the right way. You should say that you asked for a raise, but did not get it. And you should also have something to backup your claims.

For example the fact that people who have the same position earn much better in some other companies…  or that you’ve been earning the same amount for years, and never got a raise. See sample answers no. 3 and no. 7 as a good example of this attitude.

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! But it isn’t be the only difficult question you will face in your interview. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, and eventually outclass your competitors and get the job. Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you best of luck in your interviews!


Alternatively you can check sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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