So, after looking around on the site, I haven't found a question that asks this. I've seen many question about Why is it not a good idea to “badmouth” a previous employer?, but none on how to disclose the negatives of a previous (or current) job, without seemingly using your ex-employer as a scapegoat.

In my case, whenever I am asked why I am looking for new opportunities, I tend to be honest and disclose what I think are problems in our work environment. I also try to talk about the positives of that work environment.

Usually I say something like this :

Due to the problems with X and Y, and the lack of Z, our team is unable to do A correctly, and it makes it impossible for us to deliver a quality product.

While the project itself was extremely interesting, and working with the team was an enlightening experience, I felt that I could not keep working under those conditions.

With these statements I try to show that I don't think that everything was awful in my ex-job, but that, due to reasons which were independent of my will, I had no choice left but to quit.

I am wondering if there is a better way to disclose why I left my ex-job, without seemingly using my ex-employer as a scapegoat ?

  • 2
    Your premise is flawed. As the question you link details, it's never a good idea to badmouth a previous employer in any way. Asking 'how do I do this anyway' is like asking 'how do I shoot myself in the foot without leaving a hole in my foot'.
    – Cronax
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 11:17
  • @Cronax so when a potential employer asks me "why did you leave your job at X" am I supposed to dismiss them ?
    – user3399
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 11:39
  • @user3399 say what you are looking for, or maybe something you wanted to change in your life, but not something bad about the old employer.
    – JSBach
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 11:51
  • 2
    @user3399 When looking at the "badmouth" question, make sure to look at all of the linked questions on the side bar too. Many of them are asking essentially the same thing as you and have some quality answers of their own.
    – David K
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 12:28
  • related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/76506/… Commented May 23, 2018 at 12:57

5 Answers 5


Why do you even have to mention negative reasons? Nobody really likes to hear negatives, but you can take those negatives and couch them in more neutral terminology. So I would change your statement to be something like:

While the project itself was extremely interesting, and working with the team was an enlightening experience, company C was not really a good fit for me.

That's all you have to say.

And when the interviewers ask you what sort of place would be a good fit for you, you can reply with:

I am looking for a place that allows me to fully embrace X, Y and Z

This acknowledges that company C may of had issues with X, Y and Z, but more importantly directs the conversation into a forward looking direction rather than dwelling in the past.

Hopefully you already know that this new company embraces X, Y and Z, and if not you now get a chance to see how your interviewers respond to your desires.


Look at it this way.

Pretend you are an employer and you are doing an interview. The interviewee (We'll her Alice) comes in and the interview is going well. You then ask Alice her reason for leaving the company and she say:

Due to the problems with X and Y, and the lack of Z, our team are enable to do A correctly, and it makes it impossible for us to deliver a product of quality.

I can tell you as someone who sat on an interview board, this would raise a red flag to most people. What this would say to me is that you were unwilling to change. The company already had policies and ways to do things, but you went against the grain arguing there was a better way and ultimately you quit as a result. It makes it look like you are unwilling to change and work with an employer. My thought would be, how long until she leaves because she doesn't agree with one of our policies.

At the end of the day, you do not want to lie to the new employer. What you need to do is present the reason for leaving in more positive way. Rather saying because we didn't have the tools and it was impossible to deliver the product with quality, instead spin that to be I really want to work with technology X. You can also go with the approach of it just wasn't a good fit for you. You enjoyed the job, but would you much rather this job because of A, B, C.

Nobody wants to hire someone who could be a problem. By badmouthing the previous employer, it just makes you look a potential problem and they will likely hire someone else.

All of that being said, if you still want to go ahead with this (despite the fact that almost everyone will advise against it), your example in the question is probably the way to go.



Interviews are about selling something, in this case yourself. Look back at the situation and find a way to spin you leaving into a positive.

Using your example, here's a possible spin (notice my skill at this is merely decent, not great):

While driving quality at Company was (often) quite rewarding, I feel like I have managed to achieve most of what is within my current abilities, so I'm looking for new opportunities to sharpen my skills and enhance my toolset.

From your example, you absolutely must get rid of "impossible" and "I could not keep working under those conditions".


When you where interviewing with me, stating:

Due to the problems with X and Y, and the lack of Z, our team is unable to do A correctly, and it makes it impossible for us to deliver a quality product.

Would immediately disqualify you. Because you are telling me about internal problems of a possible competitor. Now, every organisation has its problems - what happens when you decide to leave mine? Can I count on you blabbing our shortcomings to the competition?

What you should focus on, during your interview is your motivation, not the old employer. At last, the question was why are you looking for new opportunities.

You can hint that all was not well at the old place, but make it about you and keep it vague. For above example I´d recommend rewording to something like:

I felt I was not able to fulfill my full potential and deliver to my usual standards, due to organisational obstacles. Then focus on the positive you are anticipating at the new place

When asked directly about the old employer, I found the best answer to be:

Sorry, but I don´t want to badmouth or disclose internals here.

  • 2
    Saying "I don't want to bad-mouth" in itself bad-mouthing - you don't say things like that unless there's something to bad-mouth that you don't wish to disclose. It's like saying "I don't want to interrupt, but ..." - a sentence that starts that way is always an interruption...
    – user44108
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 12:55
  • Yes, but as long as you don´t tell internals or point fingers at specific things, it is ok to justify your motivation truthfully. After all, you did change your job because all was not well at the old place - and that´s an OK reason.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 12:59

You spin this around and make the reason for your leaving a business decision. Downsizing, a restructuring, whatever.

So in this case, a restructuring of the team left you in a position where it made sense for you to seek alternative opportunities that better match your skill set.

  • I would not recommend that. Restructuring hints at that you where forced out because you where the weakest player in your team. This is not exactly a good selling point.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 12:53

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