Be Prepared for the Unexpected in a Job Interview
Turning negatives into positives is an important skill to learn. When you are asked a “bad” or negative question, take a minute to turn the answer around refocusing the answer to include some positive qualities.
What do you do when the interviewer asks a negative question?
You deal with it in a positive manner.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in relating their stories is trying to think of a time that was “over-the-top,” and as a result can’t come up with an example. The interviewer just wants to know how you deal with difficult situations and people.
Here is an example of a question that could catch you off guard if you are only prepared to talk about the “positive.”
Question – “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone at work and how you resolved it.”
Answer – “I really can’t think of a time when I had a conflict with a coworker. I usually get along very well with everyone.”
Not A Strong Answer - The most important reason that this is a “poor answer” is that it doesn’t answer the question: “Tell me about a time when….” The interviewer is seeking an example of a time when you had a dealt with a difficult situation or person and how you handled yourself. (Key Factor – communication/relating to others)
Stronger Answer - “There was an incident that happened with a person who was not pulling his weight on the team and it was affecting morale. All the team members were getting disgruntled but nobody was doing anything about it. His name was “Todd” and he was an older worker who had been with the company for many years.
I took it upon myself to have a talk with Todd when the opportunity presented itself. It didn’t start out smoothly – he was defensive at first and resented my speaking to him about his work behavior. He started telling me I should mind my own business. I stayed very calm and spoke in a moderate voice. I was careful to let him know that I wasn’t judging him but rather was concerned about the team and the ability for everyone to get along. He began to calm down and started telling me about the challenges he was facing.
He confided in me that he had some family problems at home that were affecting his energy level and patience. I listened attentively while he told me about his problems.
Once he became aware that his behavior was affecting other’s work he made a special effort to be more open and receptive. The team spirit improved greatly after that – as well as the productivity.
My boss made a point to tell me how much she appreciated my intervention before she had to step in to take disciplinary action. Todd also thanked me for speaking to him.”
This answer deals with the question in a positive manner. Telling about a time you’re your experience – school or work – that you had to deal with a situation. By giving an example of a time when you took the initiative, you are demonstrating another skill while giving an example of communicating and relating with people.
- Carole Martin
The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. Contributing writer at Monster.com and featured on talk radio. Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. www.interviewcoach.com
Follow The Interview Coach on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin from her blog at www.interviewcoach.com/blog to learn about current workshops and seminars Carole is offering.