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Tips on Answering Negative Interview Questions

During an interview, we all want to put our best foot forward and come across as confident and positive. This is easy when answering such questions as “tell me your greatest strength” or “why would you be the ideal candidate for this position”. What’s trickier however is when you’re faced with questions that have a more negative connotation such as:

  • What did you not like about your last position?
  • What is the worst mistake you have made at work/or a time you failed to reach a target?
  • What sort of person do you find difficult to work with?
  • What is your biggest weakness?


It can be challenging to answer these questions without feeling like you’re speaking negatively about your previous employer, co-workers, or yourself. Here are some tips on how to answer these more difficult interview questions.


Focus on How You’ve Grown

If you answer a question acknowledging a mistake or weakness, follow it up by saying what you learned from the experience and how you’ve grown. Speak to the lessons you learned which have better prepared you for the future. When answering questions about a weakness, try to also focus on behaviors rather than personality traits.


Avoid Using Negative Words and Emotions

Try to soften your answer and don’t match a negative question with a negative answer. One tip for this is to avoid using heated words like “hate”, “won’t”, or “don’t”. You don’t want to come across as angry, defensive, or hostile during the interview, so spin it into something positive and avoid using any fiery language.


Stay Calm

Don’t panic if you’re presented with a negative question that you didn’t prepare for. Remember the tips above and take a moment to gather your thoughts before answering. There are often at least 1-2 negative questions you can expect during your interview so it’s important to remember that the goal when answering such questions is to respond with professional and positive answers.