How to tell a hiring manager you're leaving your job because your boss is a nightmare

Strelka Institute/Flickr/Attribution LicenceIf you’re leaving because of a bad boss, keep it to yourself.
  • Having a bad boss is a perfectly understandable reason to want to find a new job.
  • However, at The Cut, workplace advice columnist Alison Green suggests being tactful when describing your old boss during a job interview.
  • In fact, you probably shouldn’t mention your boss at all.

It’s an unfortunate fact that some managers are hard to work for. Having a nightmare boss is a very understandable reason to look for a new job.

However, it can be awkward to explain that to a potential new boss in a job interview.

In her weekly column for The Cut, “Ask a Boss,” workplace advice writer Alison Green looks at how to explain your reasons for leaving an old job during a job interview. In her section discussing terrible bosses, Green points out that directly accusing your previous manager of being hard to work with can backfire:

“If you bad-mouth your old boss in a job interview, they will wonder what the other side of the story is, or whether you were really the problem. For example, if you say your boss was a micromanager, maybe it was really because your work wasn’t great and required a ton of oversight. Or it can seem like you have unreasonable expectations of a manager, or that you’re difficult to get along with.”

Green suggests a more indirect and tactful approach, focusing on your own desire for a change:

“Given that, if you’re leaving a job because of your boss, you’re better off with an answer that isn’t about your boss at all. Instead, explain that you’re ‘ready for a new challenge,’ ‘excited about this job because of ___,’ or another less potentially fraught answer.”

As Business Insider has previously reported, there are several reasons you might not get along with your boss. They may micromanage, play favourites with employees, or flat out lie to you and your coworkers. But as Green suggests, it might not be a good idea to bring up issues like those during an interview.

Instead, it’s wise to maintain a positive attitude, and to be well-prepared for an interview in which you present yourself as a strong potential new hire. (Those are only a few of the job interview tips we’ve previously shared.)

Read Green’s full column at The Cut ยป

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