I started a new job and found myself in a nightmarish situation. I will start interviewing soon and I will need to provide a reason for quitting so early.

I already know not to disparage coworkers, but since they are exactly the reason for leaving, what do I say?

This is the situation:

  • people have mass-quit the company two months ago and management had to hire anybody who was available at the time, in a hurry, which includes:
  • cubicle neighbor #1: Speaks VERY LOUDLY most of the day, unless he needs to work. Starts ego battles with whomever is around. When losing arguments (often) goes down to sexist/racist/stereotypical arguments. When warned about it, says "it was just a joke" and "in any case I have a PHD so deep inside you know I am right".
  • cubicle neighbor #2: just arrived from another country. Likes to engage in VERY LOUD battles of words with neighbor #1. Will not renounce his home customs, which are working bare footed, massaging his feet and then shaking hands, cleaning his tooth braces at his desk using his smartphone as a mirror and LOUDLY tapping his desk while listening to music.
  • they are both outside their "trial period" (it's Europe) and difficult to replace (our job requires a skill that is not so common)

Team lead is also exasperated, but has mortgage and cannot quit, so he does a lot of remoting and meetings, and has bought himself a bottle of hand sanitizer.

What to say then?

  • Is there some reason why you cannot remove this job entirely from your resume/application?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 20, 2017 at 6:05
  • Should I ? In any case, one of the new companies is one that I turned down for this one, so they know. Nov 20, 2017 at 6:13
  • That sounds like a good enough reason to not remove this job from the resume. Anyway, what do you plan to do if you end up with similar (or worse) "problematic" coworkers at the new job?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 20, 2017 at 6:28
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere I guess OP just wants to point out that the team lead has given up on trying to improve hygiene habits of the team members
    – DS R
    Nov 20, 2017 at 19:15
  • 2
    Wow, this sounds like the plot for a TV sitcom. You should take good notes so you can write a script for Netflix! Nov 21, 2017 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


You can mention "High turnover", which conveys all you need to without having to go into detail. If I hear that, I don't need any details. I know what's going on and so will any interviewer.

It is perhaps the best way to convey workplace issues without saying the workplace has issues. A healthy company simply does not have high turnover.

If they press you a bit, say that you are uncomfortable with the direction that the company has taken which is another signal to the interviewer.

You don't want to give specifics, but those are both general terms that are professional ways to avoid criticism of a previous employer. Avoid the term BAD FIT as that is over used and also seen as evasive. If they still push you simply say.

I'm sorry, but I won't say anything critical about an employer, past or present.

This shows you have integrity.


You don't need to go deep in details about how obnoxious your office population is. Stay high level and mention that there was no matching between your needs/expectations and what the company could offer. If they ask further, you could mention what was missing for you (i.e. team spirit).

In any case be sure to mention what you were looking for, and not only what they lacked in: you will convey the message that you have clear targets/ambitions.

  • Thanks for answering. Problem is, I think they will drill down further: "Why did you not contribute to create that team spirit", "What do you mean exactly by team spirit" etc. Nov 20, 2017 at 6:48
  • 1
    Well, you are paid mainly to do job, not to create team spirit 40 hours/week. Else you would be a cheerleader, not a software developer. Don't overthink it.
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 20, 2017 at 7:15
  • 6
    If they drill down further, it is perfectly acceptable to just sate: sorry, but I don want to go into details because I don´t want to badmouth my old employer. This carries an important message to the interviewer: I will also not badmouth your company in case we do part some day!
    – Daniel
    Nov 20, 2017 at 13:47

Remember one of the golden rules when dealing with ex-employers and managers: "Never bad mouth your previous employer/managers". This does not look good on you and could make you seem bitter.

When asked why you wish to leave a company say things like: "limited opportunity for advancement", or "the companies financials aren't so great", or "there have been layoffs", etc. Any of these type of responses are good reasons for you to leave and do not required further explanation by you.

Short answer: When asked why you want to leave or have left a company, do not go into any details about colleagues, the company, or ex managers.

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