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How to Turn Negative Interview Questions Into a Positive

One of the keys to a successful job interview is to keep things positive. You have a limited amount of time to impress your Hiring Manager and want to keep the conversation focused on why you’re the right person for the job. One way to stay away from negativity is to frame your answers in a positive way, turning a potential weakness into a strength. To do this, you can anticipate certain questions and be prepared for them. If you think you’ll be asked, you probably will. Here are three likely questions you can prepare for:

Q: “Tell me what you didn’t like about your last position?”

Answering this question can be tricky on two fronts. First, it can bring up challenges that you found with the job, which could expose potential weaknesses. Secondly, this can be an opportunity to speak negatively of your old company and/or manager, which you should never do during an interview. To answer this question in a positive way focus on how potential issues helped you grow, and give a few examples in the process.

Example answer: “There wasn’t anything I didn’t like, only challenges and obstacles. I enjoy working with others to solve challenges and overcome obstacles. Let me tell you about a couple we tackled together…”

Q: Could you tell me about this gap in employment?

Hiring Managers want to see growth over your job history, so having a gap in employment presents an opportunity to talk about what you achieved outside of the office. This is your time to highlight volunteering, education, growth, etc.

Example answer: “While displaced from working in my preferred field I spent time volunteering, furthering my education and pursuing personal improvement. I grew from that time and it made me a better person and a more valuable employee.”

Q: Tell me about a time you disagreed with a peer, how did you resolve that conflict?

Coworkers disagree from time to time. Choose an example that illustrates your patience, listening skills, and ability to find constructive resolution.

Example answer: “I’m not sure the person I disagreed with even realized we disagreed. I spent most of the time asking my peer why they felt so strongly. I let them speak the majority of time, did not interrupt, remained patient and calm, and validated their opinions. After they finished I calmly and simply stated my opinion and we came quickly to a reasonable compromise.”

This technique can be used for nearly every interview question, and is particularly helpful for questions containing negative connotations. Using this technique will increase your chances of getting the job. Talking negatively about your previous employer, gaps in your employment, or conflict resolution will decrease your chances of getting the job.

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