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Just about anyone you talk to has a story about a bad former boss. You are bound to have at least one from your past. It’s also common for the topic of former bosses to come up during a job interview.

But, before you let loose and let the interviewer know how much of a piece of work your previous manager was, take a deep breath.

Follow these tips from HR consultants to talk about bad former managers during a job interview:

1. Honesty is the best policy

Interviewers know that you are bound to have had a difficult boss in the past. This is especially the case if you have worked for a number of different companies. So, be honest about the fact that you have worked for a manager who was not so easy to deal with, but don’t be too candid with your responses. You can discuss that you didn’t agree, but do so using an optimistic tone.

2. Choose your words carefully

Rather than say unflattering things about your former boss or having a negative tone, focus on the lack of fit. For example, rather than saying your reason for leaving your previous position is because you hated your boss, communicate how the company culture or management approach was not ideal for you.

3. Be brief when discussing a bad former boss

If the topic comes up during your interview, try to answer questions about your previous boss in as few words as possible. Don’t offer up irrelevant information, and avoid ranting about reasons why you had issues. Get to the point and only discuss it in greater detail if asked to do so by the interviewer.

4. Mix in the good with the bad

An effective way to address the topic of bad former bosses is to mix in the good with the bad, so you are not speaking only negative about them. You can talk briefly about some of the issues, but follow this up with the good aspects or what you learned from the situation.

At the end of the day, it’s not the fact that you had a bad boss that will hurt you; it’s how you speak of them. People understand bad bosses exist, but if you completely trash them, it says a lot about how you deal with difficult situations.

Get More Job Interview Tips from HR Consultants:

Have a job interview coming up? Here are some more useful blog posts from our HR recruiters that can help you prepare:

How to Spot a Bad Company Culture Straight from Your Interview

3 Things to Look For in Job Postings That Can Help You Get an Interview

10 Top HR Manager Interview Questions

Jesse Ryan

Jesse’s role with AugmentHR is to seek out organizations that can truly benefit from our unique approach to solving HR and talent acquisition problems. After 17 years in the recruitment industry, Jesse is driven to educate on more efficient and cost effective ways to approach hiring. Jesse has worked in every facet of talent acquisition: staffing, corporate, consulting, and as an independent contractor. He has a keen interest in helping others and spends much of his time volunteering with non-profit organizations, like CivicAction, 360Kids and Treble Victor Group. Always on the move, Jesse fills the rest of his free time competing in a variety of sports. Jesse is a former 5 time Karate Ontario champion, military biathlon champion, and an Ironman triathlete.

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