Perhaps it might be better if I start out with some background first and that might give everyone a bit of an idea on where I'm coming from. I will be omitting all names here just in case.

I work for a smallish company (less than 20 employees) and I get on very well with most of the employees. I used to have a good working relationship with my boss, who is also the head of the company until he started making some very unrealistic work demands which I was obviously not willing to meet.

Since then, I have experienced emotional abuse and constant guilt-tripping from my boss about how I should be thankful that I still have a job and that the job market is very tough right now.

He may be partially correct as I have been applying for other jobs unsuccessfully as other job applications are asking for x years of experience in with a diverse working background, which I do not have. This was my first job straight out of college and I feel that this will be the death of me unless I change.

To continue on, I now have a different direct manager who is not much better. I also don't agree with my workplace's work ethics and the way that we are told to treat the customers. On one hand, we are told at company presentations how important it is to treat customers like God when in fact in reality, we lock them into contracts that they can't get out of and take them to court over it.

I'd like to say that we are providing exceptional service to our clients and that we're holding up our end of the contract, unfortunately, I cannot. We are told to fix the immediate issue and no more. Even if it is only a temporary patch, and not a permanent fix. "The temporary fix will fail soon and they will have to come back to us for more service" was the usual response from my direct manager.

There are no HR managers because the top 2 bosses are it. And they're both money grubbing and power hungry individuals and don't want to listen to what anyone else say. The only reason we still have any business at all is because our BDMs are very good and my colleagues and I are providing extra services to some of our clients when we know our manager is not watching so that these clients would stay happy and would refer us to other businesses.

The people that I have put down on my CVs are all ex-employees of the business who have left, some on not very good terms with the management for the same reason.

I have been to interviews where they have asked me the reason why I am leaving my workplace and I have said that it was due to a difference in working ethics with my current manager or that I needed a change of pace.

These have all resulted in the job application falling through. I have tried to call back several places, asking for feedback for future job applications and have received responses such as "We are looking for someone with more experience in the field" or "We are looking for someone who can work well in a team and we don't think that someone with issue with the management in their current workplace will fit in".

So my question here is:

How do I answer questions about the reason why I'm leaving my current workplace without seeming like a troublemaker or not a team player?

Unfortunately, I've never moved through to a stage where they would talk to my referees.

  • Hi gnat, I honestly did not see that post when I posted my question. I did scroll through the few posts that popped up as suggested previously answered questions but that post was not one of it.
    – KuroNeko
    Jul 1, 2014 at 12:13
  • 2
    You frame the reason why you're leaving in terms of the job you're applying for, not in terms of the job you're trying to leave. Not "I want to leave because x y z", but rather "I want to work at this new company because a b c" Jul 1, 2014 at 12:44
  • Cheers Carson. That's generally the approach that I take during interviews as well as in my Cover Letter.
    – KuroNeko
    Jul 1, 2014 at 13:28
  • @kuroneko I have flagged your question as duplicate, otherwise I would've edited it. It needs shortening a lot. And explain the BDM abbreviation please.
    – user8036
    Jul 1, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    There is nothing wrong with just saying "I am just looking to expand horizons" or something to that effect. You should also NEVER bad mouth your company to anyone the world is smaller then you might realize.
    – Donald
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


I was fired once by a CEO and quickly found another permanent position after a short-term stint as a consultant where I got paid twice as much. As the former supervisor of a junior colleague, a prospective employer of that junior colleague called to ask me about the junior colleague and I cooperated.

When the prospective employer of the junior colleague asked me why I had left, I answered - on the advice of a recruiter who had cold called me and who, it turned out, had been fired by the same CEO,it's a small world - that the CEO had provided an extremely stressful professional environment and that's the reason why the employee turnover at the CEO's firm was so high.

As I was crisp, to the point and coolly "professional" throughout the conversation, The prospective employer of the junior colleague had no reason to doubt my credibility. The clincher was when I told them that my name and title -it was a pretty good title - were listed on my current employer's website.

My former colleague landed the offer :)

As for the CEO, he inflicted his incompetence and lack of ethics on a shrinking number of employees and clients until nature took its course and he went out of business 18 months later.


  1. Come across as cool and professional at your interviews. Come across as the kind of staff they want to have on their team. In point of fact, come across as the kind of staff they're dying to have on their team.

  2. Make a point to provide your senior ex-colleagues as references, and emphasize how well you worked with them.

  3. When asked why you left, say that much of the staff has left because the top management had provided a very stressful professional environment and that you are just one more who left.

  4. Have your ex- senior colleagues vouch for you when called. Especially pick those of your ex- senior colleagues who come across really well. It's even more credible if they have achieved significant success at their new companies. You don't want to just smell of their success,you want to positively reek of it :)

Be a good professional salesperson: you address customer, i.e. prospective employer, objections by meeting them head on, and redirecting the narrative from the negative i.e.the top management back to the positive i.e. you and what you have to contribute :)

Bottom line is that the interview is about you and going forward not about them and looking backward. You are the interviewee not them and the focus of the interview is and should be on you not them. Make sure that's what's happening at the interview.

  • Thank you for that. That's exactly the situation that I'm in. Just in the past year alone, I've seen as many employees come and gone as there are currently. I think that of the staff that were here since I started, there are only 2 other aside from these top 2 managers. I will take your advise once I made it through to another interview.
    – KuroNeko
    Jul 1, 2014 at 11:49

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