When you're in the throes of a job interview, there's almost no escaping the inevitable question: what do you like and dislike about your current job? While you may see this as your chance to sound off about employers in an effort to display your desire for a new one, that tactic could actually come back to hurt you, since new employers may see it as you being ungrateful or disrespectful. Instead, prepare for this question by using it as a chance to display the qualities employers are looking for in their new hire.
Make a "like" and "dislike" list for your current or most recent jobs, writing down as many things as you can think of about the working conditions, your job requirements, your bosses and co-workers, and the company culture. Be as honest as you can -- this is only for your eyes, so it's ok to say "my boss is a jerk" -- just know that you won't be able to be that frank when the actual interview comes around. When possible, also write down the "why" portion; for example, detail why you think your boss is a jerk.
Read and re-read the description for the job to which you're applying, to get a good idea of what the employer is looking for in their new hire. Print out the job description and underline the adjectives the employer used to describe both the job and the company. For example, the employer may be looking for someone who is "collaborative" or "detail-oriented," or the company may be described as "cutting-edge" or "growing."
Compare your list of likes and dislikes with the job description, to find the places where the descriptions do and don't intersect. For example, if you liked working independently and the job describes the position as collaborative, you'll probably want to avoid mentioning your desire for independent work. If you enjoyed challenging projects and the job description mentions something similar, you'll know that's worth mentioning during the interview.
Make a new list of "likes" and "dislikes," based on the job description and your own personal preferences. During the interview, the hiring managers will be looking for clues that you're the right fit for the job, so this is your chance to tailor your responses to what the employer is looking for. Stay positive in your responses and never bad-mouth a current or former employer.
Memorize the new list and have a friend coach you through a mock interview, asking you other possible interview questions as well as asking you about your likes and dislikes in your current job. Ask the friend to gauge your answers and provide you feedback about how you can improve your responses.
- In some cases, completing the "likes and dislikes" lists may help you determine that the new job is not the right one for you. In that case, you may have to re-consider whether you want to continue pursuing that job. It may also help you see that you need to consider a new career path or pursue other job training to find the job that will be right for you.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.