The wonderful thing about a two-part question is that you can ignore one part of it. So if you are asked:
I see you work at ABC Corp. I have heard [specific bad practices] are common there. Why did you join a company like that?
You are free to answer
Why did you join ABC Corp?
And a smart answer focuses on you, such as
What I really value in a company is [specific things such as meaningful work, great working environment, reputation] and I believed I would find those things there.
You choose things that others would admire you for wanting, things you genuinely want, and things you believe the company you are interviewing with can offer. And you focus on those. You do not include the sentence
But as it turned out, I didn't find those things there because the people and practices at ABC Corp are awful.
Then maybe the person pushes some more
At ABC Corp, everyone knows [bad practice] is common. How did you cope with that?
Here you have three choices:
- I didn't encounter that, but if I did, I would handle it by [calm, positive, detailed answer.]
- It's my understanding that [bad practice] is rampant in our industry. Whenever I've encountered it, I've responded by [calm, positive, detailed answer.] (The nice thing about this answer is that it neither confirms nor denies that you encountered the bad practice at ABC Corp. Do not lie.)
- I didn't encounter that so I didn't have to cope with it
No matter how negative the question you are asked, it's possible to answer in a positive way. Focus on what you value in a company, not what your old employer doesn't offer. Focus on how you want to work, not how your old employer worked. Focus on the future, and use anecdotes from your past to demonstrate how glowing your future is going to be. And when you're really backed into a corner by someone who keeps poking, keeps prodding, won't let go, and really really wants you to tell a long story about [bad practices], give your biggest smile and say
I think really the only thing I can say on that matter is that I have decided I need to work somewhere else at the moment and I am hoping very much it will be for you.
managing the company