Job Interview Question: What Won't You Miss About Your Last Job?

How to respond to questions about your last job

Job interview

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To get a sense of your personal and professional passions, strengths, and weaknesses, interviewers may attempt to determine what type of work activities do not hold your interest. 

The underlying assumption is that you will put your best work into tasks about which you are passionate. Therefore, the question “What won’t you miss about your past or current job?” helps the interviewer understand whether or not you will be suited for the responsibilities of the job at hand.

The key to answering this question is to be honest, but also to remain positive, even while you are focusing on what seems like a negative question. This is not the time to badmouth supervisors or colleagues, complain about the company's facilities, or rant about a project or task you really despised. 

Compare Your Job to the New Job

Along with being honest and positive, your answer should also look ahead to the job for which you are applying. Start by making a list of the various parts of your past or current position that held the least interest for you. Try to include at least some duties that you had to carry out only on rare occasions, and were not central to your overall success. 

Next, examine the job you’re interviewing for and make a list of the different areas of responsibility included in the description. If the job advertisement lacks detail, then look at the employment section of the organization's website to see if there is a more elaborate description of the position. You can also scan major job sites by title to see what other employers incorporate into the job.

Prioritize the list of work activities involved with your target job. If you are unsure about the relative importance of various components of the job, then ask professionals in the field to help you with your appraisal. 

Pick 3 Things That Are Not a Priority

Finally, pick three aspects of your past or current job that held the least interest to you.

Compare this list with your prioritized list of work activities for your target job. You want to make sure that any tasks you mention are not likely to be prioritized by your target employer, nor should they be frequently performed or highly important aspects of the position. 

Keep It Honest But Positive

When you are answering the question, avoid any negative wording about whatever duties you share. Try to use a more neutral approach that shows that you were able to get the job done even though you weren't very stimulated by the task. 

You should be honest about the tasks that did not appeal to you, but at the same time, you should take a positive approach in explaining your reasons why. You wouldn't want to say, "As a retail sales manager, I hated taking inventory counts. It was one of the most boring things I've ever had to do, and it drove me crazy." 

Instead, you should frame your answer in a way that suggests you enjoyed more stimulating, challenging projects but still learned to cultivate the right degree of discipline for the type of tasks that might be tedious to carry out but are still necessary to complete. 

For example, you might say, "As sales manager for a clothing boutique, I really enjoyed almost all aspects of my work. I suppose the aspect that held the least interest for me was taking inventory of unsold clothing, as I did not find it mentally stimulating. However, I was able to focus on the details of the job and made accurate counts, as I knew my results would be important when it came to projects I did enjoy, like selecting pieces for our new fall line."

Sample Answers

Take a look at some sample answers to this question, and use them for inspiration while coming up with a response of your own. 

  • While I loved my time as an administrative assistant at XYZ Company, I always wanted the chance to demonstrate my fundraising and grant-writing experience, but never had the opportunity to expand my duties. I am excited at the prospect of this position, which offers a 60/40 split between administrative duties and grant writing. This kind of position will allow me to demonstrate my skill in multiple fields.
  • As a salesperson for ABC Company, I gained valuable sales skills and had great mentorship from my superiors. While I enjoyed being able to make sales calls on my own, I always wished we also did some team sales, because I feel that I am extremely skilled at making sales in a group environment, and I love the opportunity to work with and learn from my colleagues. I believe I would thrive in a sales position at your company, because of the heavy emphasis you place on teamwork and group sales.