My New-ish Job is Bad, How Do I Explain at Interviews?

I undertook a significant relocation across the country in early 2022 for a management position at Acme Corp (not a real name). The day I arrived, I found out the director had quit abruptly less than 2 weeks prior. Since then we have had two other directors. So I am on my third boss in 7 months. The team I manage was described to me as “stable and seasoned.” When I arrived though, I found out that one team member had falsified their qualifications and needed termination, and two others were new in the previous 3 months. I found a records box in my office and in going through it I discovered that there had been over 11 people in the three positions on my team. Some quit abruptly after only a month or two, using generic template letters (never a good sign). We had four junior staff/ interns on the team, and none of them had received much training or supervision in over a year. It’s been a real mess.

Things have improved on my team, but not at the company. For example, they attempted to make me contractually responsible for “hiring fees” in my recruitment, only retracting this after they were warned by regulators that this was manifestly illegal. I have had to file concerns with regulators myself after discovering data was falsified.

Given all of this, I am actively interviewing with other companies. But I am at a loss to explain why I am leaving Acme Corp after only 7 months, especially as someone in a position of significant responsibility. While it is almost expected that students or early career folks might need a few short jobs to find their fit, I have been in my industry for 25 years. I can’t simply leave Acme Corp off my resume, as I have no other way to explain why I otherwise would have abruptly closed my own business to move thousands of miles away. I don’t think ‘it’s not a good fit’ will work, because the next question is always, ‘why not?’ My answer to that is, ‘They are lying dirty snakes and I refuse to risk my reputation or professional license there.’ I know I need to say something as an explanation, but what might you advise?

Companies in 2022 are always looking for employees to fit. I think if you say that once you got into the position you realized it was not a good fit that would be a start.

Yes, you are giving your present employer an opportunity to find a better fit before they have invested significant time with you.

This is certainly the time to fix this problem. Businesses are rarely in such need to fill positions. If explained the way you put it then it shouldn’t be the kind of red flag it might’ve have been a few years back.

I like this - a lot. I do hiring and this would impress me. It speaks volumes, tactfully.

Not a direct answer, but the Blog, “Ask a Manager” answers questions like this. If you search the archives you could probably find a similar question. Or send the question in to be answered.

“My former employer was less-than-honest about about retention issues in the management role I was hired to perform, as well as having numerous instances of regulatory issues with regards to not only their manufacturing processes and documentation, but as well as Human Resources and Labor Law.”

This is not a good look, no matter how truthful.

People say this, but I don’t understand why a new employer wants you to lie about this kind of stuff. Surely, they know that some large percentage of applicants are going to face situations like this at no fault of their own.

Because then they’ll worry what you’ll say about them. It’s theoretically possible to say bad things about your last employer without looking bad, but it’s very difficult to do it without shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why @Si_Amigo’s response was so good. The new employer understands you left for a reason.

IMO, it’s double edged. You’re putting a prospective employer on notice that you have ethics and won’t put up with being lied to just to fill a spot, but that you’re also a straight shooter on Regulatory compliance and adherence to following Labor Laws.

So if they’re a fly-by-night outfit, you’re telling them to quit wasting your time. If they’re up-and-up, you’re selling your high(er than your previous employer’s) standards of professional conduct.

Well, they should worry. Everyone should worry about what people say about them when they behave unethically.

Irrelevant. You don’t badmouth your former employer.

Sure, that’s the current popular attitude. I’m saying it’s wrong; it’s a sign that we live in a corrupt society. People should be expect honesty and frankness, not half-assed cover stories from employees forced to flee. And companies that behave unethically should not expect that their employees will cover up for them. They should fear that people will badmouth them if what they’re saying is true. Corporations should not be allowed to expect or demand such cover. It’s a tyranny of employers. We need to fight it.

How is the new company to know whether accusations of corruption are true? They don’t want to hire someone who defames former employers.

How are they to know that anything an applicant says is true?

Or is paranoid.

The bigger issue is that there is little protection for the employee who goes off and tries to right corporate wrongs.

I have a friend who cooperated with the authorities and testified against his boss and several colleagues who all got stays of varying lengths in federal prison as a result.

Some 20 years later the employment prospects of my friend are worse than some of the colleagues who have criminal records. Because if you Google his name you see he’s not a team player.

I tried to hire a guy who left a competitor a few months before an accounting scandal broke there. His description of the goings on were confirmed by the criminal complaints that are public record. He said he was fired for not going along with the shenanigans. My boss overrode my decision, explicitly because she didn’t want to “bring on board a troublemaker”

If we had better protection for whistleblowers the situation might be different. Otherwise you’re just committing career suicide and no one cares.

I would suggest that you be proactive and talk to the Hiring Manager confidentially at the earliest possible. And let the other interviewers know that its a private matter that you will be discussing with the hiring manager.

And say things as you see it to your hiring manager. I have heard other people use the phrase “Culture did not fit” to describe situations you have found yourself.

I would think the same way, especially not wanting a new employer to also be a dumpster fire that breaks laws and regulations. If the new employer is turned off by someone who doesn’t want to do illegal and shady things, maybe they won’t be such a good fit either. IMHO. BUT, I think the people saying to be tactful and less forthcoming are probably correct from a strategic perspective.

Some things like employment history and schooling can be verified. Particular skills can be tested. Other things can’t be easily verified but there’s a big difference between someone who wasn’t actually employee of the month for three months running and someone who is fabricating stories of corruption by their former employer.