After your hard work job searching, you finally got that interview! You feel prepared and confident, and it is going along smoothly when all of a sudden the interviewer starts throwing you some "curve balls" –those negative questions.
If you're interviewing for a job, you're bound to hear questions like these sooner or later:
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about a time you failed.
Describe a difficult person you have worked with.
Of course, you don't want to come out looking bad. Don't panic. There is a way to answer these questions honestly and still come out with your confidence and job prospects intact.
The key is to be prepared with how to answer these questions concisely and in a positive way. The following are some tips that will help guide and prepare you for these questions.
Addressing Negative Situations:
•Use the “STAR” method for answering any situational questions.
Situation = Describe the situation. State the negative simply and factually. Don't dwell on it, blame anybody, or overstate the problem.
Task= Talk about the task/challenge
Action= Explain the action you took. How did you deal with the problem or difficulty?
Result= Talk about the positive results. The best positive you could possibly state is what you learned from the experience, or how you worked to improve matters. State another positive, if you can. Describe how your efforts resulted in money saved, better communication, or some other solution to the problem, end on that note.
•The key is to not take the question literally or you might get negative too. Avoid going into detail about how dysfunctional your last work environment was, or vent about a difficult boss.
Addressing the weakness question:
•Choose a weakness that is not a primary function of the job
•Do not choose what I call “fake” weaknesses, like being a perfectionist. Employers want to see that you are self-aware and honest about your weaknesses
•Choosing a skill as a weakness can be better than a personality trait. Skills are you something you can improve, while your personality does not change much.
•Never give more weaknesses than asked. Avoid offering a laundry list of what you hope to improve about yourself. You want to spend as much time as you can highlighting positive experiences and assets you can bring to the company.
Remember: Negative questions answered literally are disempowering because they focus on what went wrong. Resist the temptation to expand on these negative questions and instead spend time highlighting the positive. Take some time to be prepared for these “curve balls”, and use your confidence and skills to turn that curve ball into a home run.