1 Sure Way to Kill Your Job Interview

Watch Your Words

He looked like the perfect hire on paper.

Relevant experience? Check.

Good education? Check.

Awards and accolades? Check.

References? Check.

Two interviewers in, he was impressing in a positive way. I was the third interviewer and asked him about his past employer.

That’s when everything changed.

His face immediately turned red. He took a deep breath. His jaw clamped shut and you could see the muscles in his face tense.

I suppose he could have recovered, but it only got worse.

He started to unleash his anger about how he was treated, who did what, why he left. There was an untold story and this was his chance to tell it.

Wrong answer.



Focus on the Positive

It almost never pays to malign your former employer whether on an interview or even within your social network.

Were you wronged? Let’s face it: no one cares.

And, when all is said and done, who is hurt more? You are. You become known as someone who is negative, someone who is bitter. It’s far better to say nothing.



In my career, I have had the good fortune of working for some amazing companies. I learned from each one.

Incredible experiences. All positive. New skills. Lifelong friends.

I could choose to focus on the negative, too. But I choose not to.

I choose to celebrate what I learned along the way. And honestly, I really don’t have anything negative to say. My mind simply cannot grasp how anyone wouldn’t have a positive experience.

Choose to be positive. Describe your employer in positive terms. Explain what you learned.

You don’t have to be fake. You don’t have to give false praise. Be truthful, but focus on the positive.

Even the bad boss will have some positive attribute.



3 Reactions to Your Complaints

When you complain about your past employer:

  • I think there’s more to the story, and I want to hear the other side. Were you the negative one?
  • I wonder if you will bad mouth us if we hire you and it doesn’t work out. Is this a pattern?
  • You open questions about your style. Are you a good team player? Did they want you out?

If you are really angry about a past experience, I understand that, too. See a therapist. Talk to your pastor. Unload with a true friend or your spouse. Whatever you do, do not unload your negative baggage on a prospective employer.

It will not go well.



The individual I interviewed did not get the job. Turns out, he interviewed numerous times and didn’t get hired for a few years. When he finally was hired, he didn’t last long. Surprise, surprise, he had nothing good to say about his latest employer.

Be positive. Practice. Frame things in a positive light.

It will make a world of difference for your chances. It will likely make you a happier person.


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