Recently an interviewer asked me about bad things of my current company.

An example:

  • Company's bad orientation, so why did you join this company?

I suspect this interviewer was a client of my current employer, so he knows some of bad things that employees of my company usually talk about. Although I have passed this interview session, I would like to know if this ever comes up again whether I should decline to answer all his questions or what else I can do to not engage on that subject.

As suggested in previous questions here and here, I should never speak poorly of a current or former employer. However, if I do deny all of his questions, I am afraid the interviewer will think I'm oblivious or afraid to speak candidly.

  • 2
    Hey Lewis, I've edited your question somewhat and retitled it. The example you give isn't very clear to me however. What is this "orientation" you're referring to?
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 23, 2016 at 9:51
  • Thanks @Lilienthal . According to what current employees discuss, it's managing the company
    – Lewis
    Sep 23, 2016 at 12:13
  • 2
    @Lewis that doesn't explain what "bad orientation" means maybe rewrite it using shorter words being otiose doesn't help.
    – Pepone
    Sep 23, 2016 at 12:22
  • If by orientation you mean location. Then that is not really badmouthing. Knowing what you like and/or dislike might give the interviewer a better understanding you are a fit for there company.
    – Jeroen
    Sep 23, 2016 at 14:26
  • Nope it's not about location. It's about how the management drives the company..
    – Lewis
    Sep 24, 2016 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


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.


Just politely decline to comment. It's none of their business and very unprofessional to make detrimental remarks about your current company, and you never 'really' know what their agenda is in asking.

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