Showing Yourself As A Keeper Not A Whiner In An Interview

A friend of mine called me this morning and told me he was officially beginning a job search.  I was really surprised by the news and I asked him why.  He gave me some basics and told me that in interviews he planned on saying, “There was a conflict with management style, long term strategic direction and….”


“Don’t do that.” I interrupted.


Do not lead or even mention a disagreement with leadership or leadership style.  The long term strategic direction was good – the conflict with management or leadership is bad.


If an interviewer asks you why you left a certain position and you respond with you had a conflict/issue/challenge/problem with management/leadership/manager this translates to one of two things:


  1. I      don’t play well with others.
  2. My      last boss was an ass (probably because of reason number one).


It is a blame game.  It is also speaking about a former company or manager/management in a disparaging way which is a no-no.  You are using pretty words but the intention is the same.  A pound of poo in a paper bag or in a Tiffany’s box is still a pound of poo.


It is also opening the door for putting yourself in a negative light – you had a problem with them so there is no positive here in explaining that away.


If this is the reason that is repeated often when describing your departures then I suggest you take a look at the common denominator – you.  Are you setting yourself up for failure, are you unwilling to work as a team or are you lacking in communication, follow through or other critical skills?


I met a guy once that told me that he was bad at relationships; that they never worked out well.  After hearing about the last few girlfriends that were unstable, possessive or just plain not right in the head it was pretty clear the problem wasn’t the girlfriends….


When you immediately assign blame to someone else for your departure it is a big old red flag that the issue is sitting across from the interviewer.  You can also easily come across as a whiner.


Yes, there are times that your boss really is a jackass and truly the reason you left – I get that, been there and done that.  But the point is you don’t want to say it.  First of all, you never know who the interviewer knows – maybe they love your old boss.  Second, spewing negativity is not setting an encouraging interview environment.


Find a way to relate that it was not a good fit – like the long term strategic planning and direction.  For my friend it was a matter of when he was hired in there was an expectation of a new direction for the long term.  He was well on his way to make effectual changes and a new boss came in who was not comfortable with this plan of action so he thwarted everything – and was an ass.


To handle this situation is as easy as explaining this situation (leaving out “twart” and “ass” of course) and then end on a positive note with something like you felt you were no longer adding true value and that is very important to you in your role.  Quick, painless and much more positive.


It shows you are a keeper, not a whiner.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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