Having a terrible boss can turn even the greatest job into your worst nightmare. If you’ve tried everything you can to smooth things over, but are still unhappy with your working relationship, it might be time to consider a change. That said, speaking negatively about your boss in an interview (yes, even if you left the company before the interview) will be a red flag for potential employers, so you need to plan how you’re going to broach this topic.
Always be honest
Your interviewers know that having only positive working experiences is unrealistic, so it’s okay to talk about difficult or negative experiences you encountered with your former boss – but do it objectively. You can be respectfully honest about your relationship with an ex-boss without resorting to trash talk. Try not to let emotion get the best of you, and do your best to keep your facial expressions as neutral as possible so that you aren’t deeply frowning, scoffing, or rolling your eyes.
Put a positive spin on it
If you’re a natural optimist, you’ll likely find this an easy task, but even if you aren’t, try to find a way to spin the stories about your least favorite manager into something positive. This will help you make a good impression by showing your potential employer that you can be professional and learn from situations you find difficult.
Highlight your learnings
Instead of dwelling on the topic of your former boss, steer the conversation so that you talk more about the overall experience of your previous job. Be prepared to give examples or show your work in order to showcase how you grew from the experience and why you’re a good fit for this new company.
Share what you’re looking for instead
Show your interviewer that you’re a positive, forward-looking person and it might just help you go the extra mile. This is an essential personality trait that most employers want to see in a potential hire and you need them to know that you’ve got it.
So when you’re asked about your former boss, briefly share the experience and spend more time talking about what you expect from your next boss instead. Do you desire more autonomy? Would you like a closer working relationship? Whatever it is – tell them.