When you seek a new job in a better position, you will be asked several questions during the interview, some of which will be related to your previous job. Your new prospective employer is not interested in actually knowing about your last organization. They are actually interested in knowing what kind of an employee you have been. And what you have carried forward from the previous organization that could help you excel when you join them. One of the most frequently asked questions in this regard is, “What did you like the most about your previous job“?
This question can be more challenging to answer than you could imagine, and hence, it is better to be prepared while answering this question. The answer would, of course, depend to a great extent on your personal experience in your previous position. And yet, you cannot simply answer there was “nothing” you didn’t like or didn’t like.
Because answering the former would beg the question of why you chose to leave the organization if there was nothing, you did not like and saying that you didn’t like anything at all would seem like badmouthing the company. Here is how you can answer this question professionally and politely.
Why Do Your Employers Ask the Question?
You might wonder why the employer is asking you questions about your previous organization rather than what you can do for them after joining the company. However, this has more to do with you, and they are looking for constructive responses from where they can ascertain whether you can join the organization with an open mind and work as a team player.
Employees who speak negatively about their previous company might make their prospective employers feel that they will be speaking negatively about the present organization once they decide to leave. Hence, it would be best to strike the correct balance while answering this question.
Answering the Question, “What did you Like About Your Previous Position”?
You need to prepare the answer to this question carefully. Here is how you can prepare and answer this question.
1. Bring Out the Positives
While answering this question, you need to have a positive outlook as well as speak about the positive aspects of your previous organization, and at the same time not look like you are simply making things up in an effort to be excellent. On the other hand, you still need to be diplomatic and talk about the positive aspects even if there was nothing that you liked much. Try to think about all those times when you had managed to excel at your work and have been appreciated for it, even if those moments were few.
2. Concentrate on the Work
When you apply for a new position, your prospective employer would mostly be interested in knowing what skills you can bring to the table. Hence, if your previous position had a toxic work culture, it was primarily because of the people in that organization and not the job itself. Therefore, keep your responses about the work you had to do, what you learned from it, the skills it taught you, and how it prepared you to do even better, which is why you are again looking for a new position that will help you grow further.
3. Overcoming Challenges
Every position at every organization will teach you something new. If there was something you were not good at previously but only learned about it in your previous organization, this would be a great time to mention it. You can briefly tell the story about overcoming a particular challenge or talk about some of the new skills you learned. No point is too inconsequential here. If your prospective employers see you talking about the nuanced aspects of your previous job, they will appreciate you all the more for it.
4. Explain why you are Searching for a New Position
It is always best to come up with a plausible answer that despite loving some of the things about your previous job, why you are looking for a new position as well. The best way to answer this is to suggest that you are looking for personal growth and hope to get better conditions, researching the present company.
You also believe that you are ready to take your career to the next level and get a better opportunity to hone your skills in the new position by taking what you have already learned and moving forward. Your prospective employer will get the impression that they are also offering you what you liked about your previous company but have something more to offer as well. You will complement the company perfectly and vice versa.
How to Answer the Question, “What Did You Like the Least About Your Previous Company?”
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often used interchangeably with what you liked the most about the previous company, but that is not the case. And just in case your employer asks this question, do not take this as an opportunity to speak only negatively about your previous organization. This will reflect poorly on you. It would be best if you answered by pointing out some of the things you think could have been done in a better way, and you are hoping that the present organization will give you that.
Some Responses to Answer what you Liked About Your Previous Job?
Here are some ways in which you can answer the question as to what you liked about your previous job. These answers can help you set a positive tone in almost any kind of industry, but you will have to customize your responses based on your actual experiences at your past job.
1. Loved the Challenge
You could point out that your previous workplace was quite dynamic and that it laid out new challenges for you in the form of new projects. You were required to step out of your comfort zone initially, but now you are confident that you can also take on more enormous challenges. You can list some of your projects while talking about this aspect.
2. Need for Interaction
You could speak about how your previous job paid a lot of attention to communication skills and emphasized transparency which helped you interact better with your clients and colleagues. That has helped you take on leadership roles, and you are now in a position to mentor juniors and move to the next level. You can talk about how getting better at communications made it easier for you to bring in new customers for the company and retain old ones.
3. Better Collaboration
You can mention how your previous organization helped you become a team player. You honed your problem-solving skills by brainstorming with other team members and came up with better solutions for your projects. This, in turn, has encouraged you to take more risks and become more open to welcoming fresh perspectives.
4. Being Accountable
You can mention that your previous job has taught you to be more responsible and hence, more accountable for your actions. Suppose you are associated with any job requiring vigilance or monitoring or making inferences from data. In that case, this is a quality that most of your prospective employers will love.
5. Meeting Deadlines
You can talk about how your previous job made you more mindful about meeting deadlines. If you have been working in an organization that has to provide quick results, this is an admirable quality. In the same way, meeting both short and long-term goals is something you get better at with practice, and it would be polite to mention that you learned about its importance even more during your previous stint.
Some Inappropriate Answers to What You Liked about your Previous Job
One of the things you must avoid while answering this question is not to provide bleak and vague answers. Nor should you try to beat around the bush, which makes it evident that you are trying to avoid the question. You should be able to find something good about the company, as not doing so would reflect poorly on you and not just on the company, and you would come across as someone who only has a negative mindset. Try to avoid giving one-word and evasive answers. Even if your response is brief, it should have a context, and you should always speak politely about your previous boss or organization.
Hence, if you are faced with the question about what you liked most about your previous organization, you have a guideline to follow based on which you can construct your response. Your prospective employer would love to see that you are respectful towards your previous organization, although you are not a part of it anymore and are not obliged to say good things. This will make your new employers look favorably to you and make them more open to letting you join their organization.