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How to answer negative interview questions positively

|  —  21/07/17

What’s your biggest weakness?

Tell me about a time you haven’t handled a situation well.

These seemingly negative questions often trip people up in interviews. It’s important to think about how you’d answer them beforehand.

Saying “I don’t have one” or “I can’t think of any” are not appropriate responses.

So what do you say?

These questions are testing your self awareness and emotional intelligence.

Being able to acknowledge your weaknesses is important, so is being able to admit when you get something wrong without denying, blaming others or justifying.

But that said, when answering these questions the last thing you want to do is blurt out your biggest faults without providing a full circle explanation that brings you back to a positive.

What do I mean? Here’s an example:

I recently coached someone who said her weakness was she didn’t like conflict. On its own, that’s a pretty negative statement that would give potential employers cause for concern.

However, in her interview the woman explained that because she was aware this was an issue, she had sought out and undertaken my Effective Communication Workshop to develop skills to help her have difficult conversations with greater ease.

She then demonstrated how she had put these skills to good use in the workplace by providing the panel with an unprompted specific example.

She told the story of when she raised a safety issue with a colleague who was performing work against regulations and how even though it was an uncomfortable conversation the colleague didn’t take well, she had been compelled to address the issue directly with the person and then with a superior.

While she still didn’t like conflict, she knew it was sometimes necessary and was prepared to step up and say her piece calmly and confidently when required – even if the other person didn’t like it.

This was a fantastic example. She answered the question honestly, but then demonstrated self awareness and initiative by having taken action to address her weakness.

The panel was impressed, particularly by the fact she’d sought out training off her own back.

Turns out someone with these traits was just what the company was looking for and she got the job.

Employers are looking for the right people, not just people with the right experience.

Want to learn more about communicating effectively in a job interview? Get a ticket to my workshop INTERVIEW SKILLS: LAND THAT JOB, Monday 31 July, 6:15-9:15pm, Moe Library. Limited tickets remain at

Leah Mether is a communications specialist, trainer and professional speaker. You can visit her website at
#workshop #interviewskills #gippsland

Leah Mether is a communication and soft skills trainer obsessed with making the people part of leadership and work life easier.

With more than 15 years’ experience working with thousands of clients, and an acclaimed book to her name, Leah knows what it takes to communicate under pressure. Like you, she knows the challenge of conflict, personality clashes, and difficult conversations.

Leah is renowned for her practical, engaging, straight-shooting style. Utilising her Five Cs® model of communication, she helps leaders and teams shift from knowing to doing, and radically improve their effectiveness.

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