Unfortunately, we don’t always leave a job on the best of terms with our employer. But the good news is: You can control your narrative afterward. Below is some advice from an Idealist article on how to address a prior negative employment experience when interviewing for a new position.
- Separate the personal from the professional. If you left your job because of a personal disagreement, do not mention that to the interviewer, as you’ll want to convey a high level of professionalism.
- Don’t bad-mouth your former boss. Talking negatively about your previous supervisor can raise a red flag, giving the impression that you might feel this way about any boss you’ll have. It’s best to be respectful.
- Keep your emotions in check. Thinking about having left a job on bad terms may evoke an emotional response, but you want to be mindful not to let this come through in an interview. Practice speaking with a friend or family member about the reasons why you left your previous company, until you’re able to reign in your emotions when describing the circumstances.
- Steer the conversation back to a positive. Rather than dwelling on the negative, focus on what you learned, the skills you’ve gained and how the combination of those elements makes you an ideal fit for the prospective company/organization.
To steer the conversation back to a positive, you might try a technique that Cancer and Careers calls “The Swivel.” It involves acknowledging and addressing the question being asked, then redirecting — or swiveling — the conversation toward a more productive topic, including your professional goals and desire to get hired. For examples, click here.
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