When I was younger and my father still alive, he used to tell me:
Don’t spit in a tongue soup you liked to eat.
In case you don’t understand French idioms and slang, he was mixing 2 popular French phrases. The first one, « don’t spit in the soup » means « don’t bite the hand that feeds you ». The second one, « tongue soup » refers to the French kiss. What he was telling me was:
Don’t bitch about your exes, you were happy when you had them.
This is one of the best advices he ever gave me as a professional. When being interviewed or joining a new company, never bitch about your former employer.
With a very few exception, I had a part of responsibilities in the fact the person became an ex, whether she was a long relationship or a one night stand. The same applies when leaving a company for a new one.
It’s sometimes hard to explain why you want to leave your current job. When asked, being negative about your employer is a slippery path. Biting the hand that once fed you is a strong sign addressed to your next employer.
When a candidate goes all negative about his company, I suspect he’s the real problem. Terrible companies exist, terrible employees exist as well.
Talking crap about your current company is an easy way to explain your lack of achievement. « If they had listened to me it would be a billion dollar company » or « I didn’t have the team / freedom / budget to do what I wanted to do » are 2 things I’ve heard a lot in the past to explain career failure.
When it’s not about making your former boss carry the weight of your failure, being all negative about your former company raises another question.
If he’s that negative about his current company, what is he going about mine?
The question raises with many others. Will he bitch about the company to others employees? Will he bitch about the company to people from the industry? Prospects? Potential hires?
Negative people are toxic.
They undermine the moral of their team. They produce poor results and don’t improve anything. They don’t fit in an open, positive company’s culture. When you start working with someone negative, you quickly establish a trust problem.
I don’t expect anyone to tell me his former company was a paradise. But instead of bitching, point out your achievements, explain why you’re done with what you’ve been doing there and what you learnt. You’ll show a much more positive state of mind which is exactly what your interviewer is expecting from you.