I work for a small company (less than 50 employees, more than 20 years old company) where incivility is state of the art.

Everyone who crosses the manager's or supervisor's path, is held responsible for whatever issue the manager, or supervisor, is concerned about in this moment.

This situation now has come to a state where I am afraid of doing anything I am not explicitly told to do and where I avoid any approach to a superior. The quality of my work is lowering. I am in some kind of paralysis because I am basically to afraid to work. Of course, this makes the situation even worse.

I know, from talking with his coworkers, that some others have the same issue, while a small part of the coworkers do not. This state is getting worse and worse, so I am searching for a new, friendlier, workplace.

But I worry about getting an Interview and the interviewer asking "Why do you want to leave your current employer?" What should I answer?


Everyone who is interviewing for a new job has one of three reasons for doing so:

  • they are losing their old job against their will (fired, laid off, company closing)
  • they need to move to another city for reasons unrelated to employment and need a new job in the new city
  • there is something about their old job they don't like

The vast majority of job seekers are seeking because of reason 3. So the fact there's something about your job you don't like is not unusual or strange or a black mark on you.

Bad answers to this question make you look bad. Over generalizations, selfishness, obvious inability to perform or to understand the business environment. Things like

  • I had been there 3 months and not received a raise. I need to go somewhere that appreciates me
  • My boss makes me fill out timesheets and explain why things sometimes take ten times longer than expected.
  • The food in the cafeteria doesn't meet my standards
  • I have to work with stupid people
  • Just because I slapped a client, I was not given any more opportunities to go on client visits
  • I was only sent to three overseas conferences this year and they will only pay for business class tickets when I prefer first class

Good answers make you look good. Understanding that every workplace is different and that culture and workstyle are important, and being careful your complaints don't have a tone that lets the interviewer assume you are actually at fault

  • the chain of command is unclear. There is a lot of "drop everything and work on this other thing" and then later someone else will insist I switch back. I like having my work planned and working on things one at a time. [Some workplaces will reject you for this, but that's a good thing if it keeps you out of a chaotic swirling mess]
  • some of the people above me can be pretty random in their demands of line staff. It wasn't often clear who was setting priorities. I like to know what's important to the company so I can make good decisions about my time
  • I had a bad personal fit with a manager who frequently yelled at staff in the office. I felt bad when it was me and I felt even worse when it was other people. I don't like working in that kind of environment.

Each answer describes your reasons by describing you and what you need. If the interviewer has something to offer that's a good fit for you, these answers will help you get the job. If the interviewer has a position that's a lot like your old one, you won't get the job, which is good. You already know you don't want a job like that.

Notice also that these answers never describe your own feelings and behaviour negatively (paralysis, afraid, low quality work, etc.) The awareness and self-knowledge to use these words in your own thinking is good. But do not say them to an employer. Focus on the kinds of workplace you are looking for (friendly, predictable, fair, open, ...) and not on the effects a bad workplace has on you.

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You say that the company culture is not the best fit for you. Then you explain exactly what you are looking for in a company culture. This will eliminate you from some jobs but usually only the ones that have a company culture that is not compatible with what you want which is a good thing in my book.

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