Interview insight — Learn to complain properly

This thought is very simple but it still seems hard to grasp for some people. When being interviewed, what do you say about your previous job?

Recently, I was talking with a friendly owner of a software development company. He was hiring some developers, and, by chance, got some guys who worked with me before. One of them didn't speak highly of our shop at the time — something about administration, about general atmosphere etc, no real details just general mood of “not a good place”.

If you frown on an interview, your interviewer will frown too. At you, unfortunately.
(photo by Hendricks Photos)

Of course, this got me tense — nobody likes someone saying bad things about their beloved company. Yet I was surprised to see that the guy didn't take much of that whining into account. Actually, he learnt more about the person than about the company. If this guy complains easily about his previous employer, he said, then what will he say about me a year or two down the road?

Good question, isn't it?

Sure, I have to admit that there can be genuine objective issues with your workplace, but you need to make conscious effort to not fruitlessly complain about it. Since otherwise you'll sound like you're whining, creating a bad impression about yourself.

Even if that impression is true, it is not something to boast about.

You could even, y'know, think (!) a little, and explain how you, being such a good, loyal and patient person, managed to work in such a toxic environment and produce good results. That's a guy I'd hire!

And the idea is not to pretend, but to teach yourself such a positive and problem-solving (buzz-word detected!) attitude. Another job can change a lot of things — but you.

Take care, and enjoy whatever you're doing!


  1. I'd like to whine about verbosity of your article. :)

    I totally agree with the idea and with everything said here. But in my opinion it could be much shorter: "When an interviewer asks you about anything, she actually asks you about yourself." All the rest is just a simple deduction from this axiom. :)

    1. Hah, that's a neat way to put it! Thanks :)

    2. Well, I hoped for some rebuttal. But I guess you are too positive for this. :)

    3. I didn't delete my article, since it still expresses a similar thought from a different angle. Still stands, I believe.

    4. Oh no, I meant "heated debates" rebuttal, not deletion of article!

    5. No point to argue, since I agree.


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