In my latest career advice piece for Work Reimagined, I talk about how to sidestep questions about a negative environment during your job interview:
In a job interview, you need these strategies to avoid sounding negative and hurting yourself.
Tell your story with facts, not judgments. Your old boss yelled too much. Your former work environment favored face time over results. It’s hard to be objective when you’re affected negatively, but “too much” or “face time” are judgment calls. Your old boss would beg to differ, and maybe raised voices motivated your ex-colleagues. If you are asked to describe a less-than-ideal former situation, focus on just the facts: what was your boss’s title and scope within the organizational structure (so we know where you fit into the structure); and what were the company’s business goals (so we know what your group focused on). Sticking to the facts will help keep the emotion out of your response.
See additional strategies in my latest piece for Work Reimagined: Why You Should Never Trash A Bad Boss.