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How should I explain in a job interview if I am leaving my current job because of a bad boss?

I am keeping my eyes open for other opportunities because I do not get along with my boss. Looking for advice on how to answer the often asked interview question "why are you leaving?" Should I address the question directly? Is there a way to address it tactfully?


Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

If they ask, say that the working environment at your current employer is not positive. Leave it at that. If they press you, say you would prefer not to talk about specifics, then ask a question to change the subject. You could ask about how they view the working environment at the company you are interviewing with.

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

What are the odds the reply would be along the lines "this workplace sucks"?
My reply would be to take a more positive approach and say you have enjoyed the time there but are looking for more challenges and opportunities that are currently not available to you.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

Don't bash your employer/hopefully soon to be former employer. Be positive. Just say new opportunities. Just make sure you come up with something positive and honest as to why you are leaving.

Ron Lathouwers
Title: CFO
Company: WEM Corp
(CFO, WEM Corp) |

Two reasons not to tell a potential employer about your boss:
1. Is they do not expect that sort of response and then will question your judgment.
2. They might turn it around and have the feeling that you are the one that cannot get along with your boss. Follow the advice of Randy and Ross.

(Human Resources Manager) |

Perhaps state that you are looking for a higher quality company and that you believe that they are a good fit and a step up from your current employer. Companies will normally agree that they are "better" than your current employer and you won't have to address the boss at all. In essence, it sounds like you are looking for a higher quality company, for promotional opportunities and for growth. You can expand on your positive qualities and why you believe that their "better" company is a fit with your skillset. I wouldn't say anything negative about the boss or your current employer. I would just focus on your strengths that distinguish you and how you can hit the ground running.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Practice your answer and be confident in it. As the saying goes, people don't leave jobs they leave people; the bottom line is employer's don't expect to hear about it. They want to hear what strengths you will bring with you and how you can interact with others. We face challenges every day it's how you chose to handle yourself that matters. Your career aspirations are taking you in a new direction is much more professional and tactful than saying my boss is awful and I can't take it any longer.

(Controller) |

Thank you for the great advice! Be positive and look forward!

(Associate) |

If I'm looking to make a move while I have a job, I want that move to be to a place where I will be a good fit. So, I may be a bit more forthcoming with my answer, but in a positive way. In the similar situation as you, I would say something like "I like to encourage and empower my employees and the company culture did not embrace that philosophy." That way the interviewer will learn about you and be able to figure out if you really would be a good fit there. It may even lead you to talk more about your positive leadership style

(Associate) |

When this happened to me I was bitter at the boss. What really helped me get past it was to write a letter to the boss. The letter said everything I wanted to say but shouldn't. Of course, don't send it as it's just for you. It just felt good to say it all with no repercussions.

Mitchell Browne
Title: Vice President
Company: 8020 Consulting
(Vice President, 8020 Consulting) |

Many great posts already. I am also in the camp of giving almost exclusively positive answers lest the potential new employer think that the problem is you. As much as you want to blast the old boss, I'd recommend holding back. The reason you are leaving is (at least for an interview) because the new opportunity is just so great!

Lynn Fountain
Title: MBA CGMA CRMA, Past Chief Audit Executiv..
Company: Business Consultant
LinkedIn Profile
(MBA CGMA CRMA, Past Chief Audit Executive, Business Consultant) |

I agree with the comments of staying you are searching for a new challenge. There is no purpose or reason to comment about a past boss. If you are concerned about being placed in a similar boss:employer relationship - ask questions of the interviewer that help you understand the depertment culture and working relationships

Rich Robins
Title: Accountant
Company: Tec
(Accountant, Tec) |

Conventional answer: The job you're applying for/the org is a "better fit".

Unconventional answer: You have information your current employer is likely to downsize in the next year. That's a stressful situation worth avoiding!


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