They just want to get to know you
Many job seekers get stumped by this question because they make it much harder than it needs to be. They either say too little (so they aren’t complaining about a past job), or say too much too much (which can make an interviewer think they were a problem employee).
So long as you’re honest, answering the question can be easy. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be just fine.
First off, there doesn’t have to be anything you would change about your job. If you love your current (or most recent) position but have decided to move cross-country or were laid off, it’s okay to say you loved it! But follow that up with telling your interviewer why you love it. What was it about the company culture, the workflow, your boss, that make you feel the way you do? Just make sure to keep things short and sweet.
Conversely, if you absolutely hated your job, you should still tell the truth, albeit in a professional way. Instead of saying you hated your job, pick one thing about your job you don’t like and focus on that. Try not to get emotional, and just analyze this one less-than-stellar attribute of that job and how you would change it.
It’s very possible the thing you would change is a person—terrible boss, a bad co-worker, or a disrespectful client. Instead of saying that your change would be firing or otherwise eliminating that person, focus on their behavior. “My boss preferred a hands-off approach, and we weren’t able to discuss projects prior to starting them as a team. This often resulted in confusion among team members who never had time to get on the same page,” sounds much better than “my boss hardly ever came into work, blamed employees for things, and was generally a terrible person.”
Connect Your Answer to the Company You’re Applying With
Ideally, whatever you want to change about your past job should be something that makes that job more similar to the one you’re applying for. For example, if the last company you worked for had a hectic crunch-heavy culture, and the organization you’re interviewing with is known for caring about their employee’s mental/physical health, note that you would have liked to see a cultural shift toward positivity at your last job. That way you’re showing that position you’re interviewing for is what you really want.
For more in our Answering the Interview Question series, check out:
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
What Are Your Top 3 Strengths and Weaknesses?
Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job/Company?
Answering the Hardest Interview Questions
What’s Your Most Impressive Accomplishment?
How Would Your Co-Workers Describe You in Three Words?
Why Do You Want to Work at Our Company?
Do You Like to Take Charge of Projects and Situations?
Do you have any other ways to answer this question? Let us know in the comments section below!