“What do you like least about your job?”
You won’t encounter this opinion question in job interviews all that frequently. If you do, though, it can throw you for a loop if you aren’t prepared.
Don’t fret: We’re going to teach you the best way to take this negative-sounding question and turn it into a positive answer.
Variations of This Question
Not every interviewer will phrase questions the same way. Here are a few other questions that mean essentially the same thing:
- What do you dislike about your job?
- What do you enjoy least about your job?
- What did you like least about your last job?
- What was your least favorite job and why?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
This question is about your attitude towards work and your ability to stay positive.
Employers want to hire people who maintain a positive mindset at work, as they’re more likely to integrate well with the team, perform better in their role, and be less likely to quit soon after getting the job.
This question is also asked to see if the issues you have at your current job are likely to follow you to this new job.
The new job might have similar limitations to your old job, and if that’s why you left, it’s unlikely you’ll stick around for the long-term. It’s counterproductive to hire you if you’re only going to run into the same issues.
How to Answer: “What Do You Like Least About Your Job?”
Here’s the 3-part structure we recommend you follow when answering this interview question:
1. Describe Something You Like About Your Last/Current Job
Start your answer by talking about what you appreciate about your previous or current role.
This is important because it demonstrates you can see the positive aspects of a less-than-ideal situation.
Think about what you’re likely to miss about the job after starting in your new role. If possible, mention something you think will also apply to the role you’re interviewing for.
Attractive job qualities might include:
- Having the option to work remotely
- Being in a team-oriented work environment
- A highly supportive boss and/or coworkers
- Work that you find meaningful
- Educational opportunities that have gotten you this far
- Company values that match your own
Here’s an example:
“I can say a lot of good things about my current job, like the team I work with. Everyone’s very supportive and we know the strengths of each individual which allows us to complete projects very efficiently.”
2. Describe a Limiting Factor of Your Last/Current Job
Talk about an aspect of the job that prevents you from being able to perform your best.
This shows the interviewer you want to succeed and likely would have — if it weren’t for this particular limitation.
Think about goals you might have, such as improving certain skills or reaching certain achievements, that are unattainable at your last or current place of employment.
Limiting factors might include:
- No avenues to progress further within the company
- Not being challenged enough in your daily job duties
- Not having access to the best tools or resources
- No way to learn more about your industry or specialization
- A glitchy project management system
- Too much staff turnover in higher positions
- The need to work overtime regularly or inflexible hours
Here’s an example:
“The thing I least like, however, is the bespoke project management and email system the company uses. It’s glitchy and crashes often; it even loses our work at times. I’m occasionally unable to meet my daily or weekly goals due to this inefficient system.”
3. Explain How This Job Will Rectify The Problem You Described
Finally, discuss why this limiting factor will not be an issue in the new role.
This is important because it proves you’ve thought about how you can ensure your success in a new role by identifying potential limiting factors.
Use what you know about the company from your research or from the job description to explain why this role won’t share the negative factor.
Perhaps this job:
- Has lots of opportunities for career development
- Provides better education and training for employees
- Uses top-of-the-line technology
- Has a positive company culture
- Avoids high turnover with incentives and support
- Offers flextime, remote work, or other work-life balance aspects
Here’s an example:
“At my first interview, I asked about the technology used for project management and it was clear from the answer I got you guys are up-to-date in terms of software tech. I’m looking forward to working with an efficient system that won’t hold me back.”
Putting It All Together (Example Answers)
Applying a structure can be difficult without some written sample answer to demonstrate how it can be used.
Check out these examples below:
Example #1: Lack of Growth Opportunities
“My current boss is very supportive and has encouraged me to go as far as I can within the company. He’s recommended me for promotions and has shown me how to maximize my education during my employment.
Unfortunately, I’ve exhausted all opportunities available to me within that organization. I’m an assistant manager, and my manager is the only person above me, save for the owner. I’m still eager to progress further, however.
I’ve learned about the progression possible in this firm, and I like how employees can be moved to different branches if their careers take them in that direction. I look forward to a long, fulfilling stay with this company if I’m hired.”
Example #2: Too Much Overtime
“I’d like to say first that I learned so much about hard work and perseverance in my current job. My tenacity has paid off, and I’ve been able to move up the ranks in exchange for the amount of work I’ve been willing to put in.
At my current level, however, I’m required to put in between 50 and 60 hours per week. Nobody in my department is allowed to work less than that. It’s time to address that; my work-life balance is out of whack, and fixing the problem isn’t possible in my current job.
This company offers flextime and remote working, so I know I’d be able to continue to progress my career while still making time for other important things in my life. I appreciate a company culture that values staff personal time.”
Example #3: High Staff Turnover
“I truly love the work I do at my current job. The projects I work on are fulfilling and meaningful to me on a personal level. It’s why I’ve continued working in the role for as long as I have.
So long, in fact, that I’m one of the longest-standing employees. Most of my original colleagues burnt out within a year. It’s demoralizing to have new staff and managers being hired and leaving on a regular basis.
I’ve read up on the support available here, and it’s impressive. I see everyone has a mentor assigned to offer guidance. I’ve seen reports of low turnover rates and beneficial company culture. I look forward to taking advantage of that support if I’m successful today.”
How NOT to Answer
Every interview question opens the door to a different kind of mistake, and while these can often be subtle, it’s always best to avoid them if you can.
Here are the biggest errors to watch out for with this particular question:
Don’t Badmouth Anyone
One of the worst things you can do with this question is talk negatively about a particular person at your old job.
Employers do NOT want to hire gossips, as they tend to create friction in the workplace and distract others from doing their work.
Talk about the factors you don’t like, not the people you don’t like. Avoid blaming anyone in particular for the negative qualities of your job.
Don’t Air Your Grievances
Resist any temptation to provide a litany of complaints about your current or previous job.
Your interviewer wants to see you turning a potentially negative question into a positive. They aren’t interested in hearing about a long list of issues you’re having.
Instead, stick to one limiting factor and talk up the solution that this new job will provide.
Don’t Be Petty
Avoid focusing on some small transgression or trivial incident in your answer.
Employers look for people who are easy to work with. Bringing up something minor can give the impression you’re a difficult person or a pessimist.
Focus your answer on a positive aspect, a solvable negative feature, and why this job will be a better fit for you.
- Recognize the variations of the question
- Name a positive feature of your job
- Explain what limits you at your job
- Discuss why this new job won’t have the same issue
- Don’t talk poorly of anyone
- Don’t give a list of complaints
- Don’t focus on a very small issue