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I have dug myself a hole here.

I left my work because basically my manager wouldn't show any developer without significant experience any respect what so ever. Our director was basically his chew toy because he works on one our most critical systems and he has to answer to the company board.

So if I get asked why I left without job to go to how do I say he's basically "an aggressive manager that doesn't show anyone any respect what so ever"

His favorite quotes are among: "I HAVE OVER TWENTY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE STOP TELLING ME HOW TO DO MY JOB" and "I DONT KNOW HOW IT WORKS SO YOU CAN'T USE IT" And has also openly disrespecting my parents and culture.

I put up with this for 3 years but now am jobless because I had enough and resigned.

  • Possible duplicate of Why is it not a good idea to "badmouth" a previous employer? – Dukeling Feb 12 '18 at 18:27
  • You may find some useful advice here: How to respond to "Why are you looking for a new job?", if you can look past the obvious difference. Also, Interview question: Why did you leave your previous role? – Dukeling Feb 12 '18 at 18:28
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    badmouth isn't a dupe. He's not asking that at all. It might be helpful, but it certainly isn't a dupe. – Chris E Feb 12 '18 at 18:33
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    @ChrisE The only reason OP gave here was bad-mouthing. So the implication in saying one shouldn't bad-mouth is that OP needs to come up with another reason (one that's unrelated to what they said here and that they can motivate and makes sense and applies to them specifically, which I'll argue is something we can't really tell them, apart from the general guidelines from the other posts I linked). Also, Should I be sincere - in an interview - about the reason for leaving my previous job? – Dukeling Feb 12 '18 at 18:37
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    @ChrisE I read the question as OP looking for the best response to the given question considering the circumstances, not that they're specifically looking to explain that they left due to their aggressive manager (even if that's a bad idea) (the exact intention is something only OP can clarify). Although, even in the latter case, I'd say it's still pretty close to a duplicate, given that the response will still need to be focused around trying not to bad-mouth. – Dukeling Feb 12 '18 at 18:53
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TL;DR: Tell the truth, sound objective, don't badmouth your ex-boss


Just tell the truth. I've been in a similar situation, except the workplace bully I was involved fired me.

So I tell them that my boss was a bully, screamed and swore at me and a different manager told me to go to HR about it. The day I went to HR, he fired me and he wasn't even supposed to be in the building, so it was no coincidence.

It made it tough for a couple of months but I went with honesty. Just tell the truth and don't show any animosity or anger. Try to be dispassionate about it in the telling. Also, don't say "quit". Never say quit. Just use as many neutral terms to describe the situation. If others quit before you did, stress your loyalty to the company and that even though x people left because of him, I stuck around until I couldn't stand it anymore.

I wouldn't differentiate between people he respected and those he didn't. Tell them you loved the work, you loved your colleagues but after 3 years, it was time to move on.

Make sure you get contacts at the company who would give you a reference (not your boss obviously) because they may want someone to vouch for you. Coworkers will work. If you have a good report with your director, talk to him about giving you a reference and you can bypass the boss altogether.

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How to answer “why did you leave without a job to go to”, when your manager was agressive?

If (and this is a big if) and when you are asked that during an interview, a professional reason to give is "Because company culture", or also "Because I found out it wasn't a good fit."

Usually it is not recommended to bad-mouth current of former employers or coworkers, and this case is no exception. If you really feel like telling about the true nature of your ex-manager try to keep it as respectful and objective as possible. Just stick to the facts and say that you were not happy working there anymore.

No need to give a much detailed explanation; if you feel that the interview is derailing into questions from you past, you can try saying what suggested before and adding, "... but I feel that this company could be a better fit. If you don't mind, I would like to know more about the job you are offering." Or return to topic by asking some other related question about this position.

  • don't say culture because that'll make them question what the culture was like. It's too vague of a statement not to follow up. And not being a good fit, my response as an interviewer would be "You found out after 3 years you weren't a good fit? What aren't you telling me?" – Chris E Feb 12 '18 at 18:31
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    @ChrisE you got a point, the 3 years is an important detail to consider for an answer, perhaps in this situation the way to go is to be honest. – DarkCygnus Feb 12 '18 at 18:33
  • Whether he takes your philosophy or mind, I would stress that he needs to practice the telling of it a lot so it feels natural and not nervous or gives even a hint that the question is something he would rather not answer. Even going so far as to getting someone who's interviewed people to interview him repeatedly with as many responses as possible so he can be prepared. – Chris E Feb 12 '18 at 18:35
  • @ChrisE agreed, interviews are perhaps one of the situations in the workplace that one has to be most prepared for; practicing with friends or former coworkers, in the mirror, writing down ideas to elaborate on them are all also good ways to prepare for the most difficult questions. – DarkCygnus Feb 12 '18 at 18:38
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The situation is pretty common, and someone who managed to work 3 years in a place is exactly not a bad candidate.

Besides the good advices in other answers, the best you can do is turn the tables in the interviewers. When describing your last job, you talk first about why you left.

It avoids you being caught somewhat "off-guard", and also to shorten the time talking about it. It comes more naturally if you are the one broaching the subject, partly also because you know it will be the next move of the interviewer.

Do not let the theme of you walking away from your former job dominate, or taking a lot of time of an interview. Show them you are an interesting candidate, and there are so much more good stories of work/life experience to talk about instead.

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