Q: I recently quit my job as an human-resources generalist with an aerospace company. I really liked the job and my co-workers, with the exception of my boss. As much as I tried, I could not work with the manager's style, and I quit. I have had one interview, and when I told the interviewer that the environment was not right for me, she asked why. I felt like a deer in headlights and gave an answer I knew was not right. What do you advise? - C.P.
Dale: If a deer in headlights is how you feel about the subject, that's what interviewers will feel, too. At a subconscious level, people feel your emotions, your confidence, your energy. So you need to come up with an answer that doesn't just sound right, but one that feels right.
J.T.: The reality is that you are harboring impressions that you did something wrong. If that's how you're thinking, say something like: "I left my previous job because of the leadership approach. I couldn't relate to it and felt it was impacting my work. Looking back, perhaps I should have stayed until I found a new job; however, at the time, I felt that leaving would free me up to properly search and apply for jobs I could excel at."
Dale: If that feels right, C.P., then we're done. If it doesn't, then you might want to experiment with a different truth. Assuming that you've had other managers, you could say: "I've had many bosses in my career and got along with all of them : except one. And I decided that rather than develop a bad attitude, I'd leave and devote myself to finding the right situation." If asked what was wrong about that one boss, you rise above: "I don't want to badmouth anyone. Would it be all right if I talked about some of the great bosses I've had?" I don't know about you, C.P., but that feels just right to me.