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.


3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    Which other verb should the op use when asked how they left the company…when they quit? Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 16:48
  • @morbo I said things like "I left" or "resigned" when that happened. You could always say, we went our separate ways or it wasn't a good fit. There was a disagreement or conflict about ___ but <insert "it's a good company" > and that has actually happened to me. Honestly, you can say pretty much what you want. They'll call the company who will say "yes, he worked here" and nothing else. They probably wouldn't even ask the stupid "would you rehire" because when you quit it's obviously no. Remember, your employer has to be a good fit for YOU, not just a good fit for them. Don't apologize.
    – Chris E
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 15:09

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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 18:31
  • 3
    @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
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 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
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 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
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 18:38
  • I'd wonder why it took so long to find out "it wasn't a good fit". I prefer honesty in that case, such managers do (unfortunately) exist, and it's something I could more easily understand or even try to verify (glassdoor, etc.)
    – bytepusher
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 2:13

The situation is pretty common, and someone who managed to work 3 years in a place is not exactly a bad candidate.

Besides the good advice 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 in 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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