“Often times there are questions that ask for something negative, like a problem you had with a coworker or boss. What is the best way to answer these questions?”
There are a number of interview questions that ask you about problems you had with coworkers and how you felt about your supervisors. There are several ways to answer these questions, but one wrong way.
The Wrong Way
One thing you will always want to stay away from is negativity. Complain about a recent coworker or a supervisor and you will not get the job. Employers do not want negative people. They want effective people.
The Generally Recommended Answer
In most cases, you will want to answer questions about coworkers and supervisors in positive ways, no matter how much you hated them. Did you like your past supervisor? Of course you did! How about your coworkers? Wow, they were the best! You should expand to be more wordy in your answers but in general you should pretend to love every coworker and supervisor you have had.
Asking for Specific Examples
Where a problem occurs is when interviewers ask for a specific example of a time you disagreed with a coworker or a time you disagreed with a supervisor. Few people in the world have never had a disagreement. It’s simply not possible. Therefore, when you answer these questions, you have two options:
- Use an Example From the Distant Past – Try to use an example of a disagreement you had long in the past. If you have had more than one job, try to focus on a disagreement you had at one of your first jobs. If not, try to use language that makes it sound like it happened long in the past. Never simply mention the problem. Always explain what you did to solve the problem.
- Feign Memory Loss Anyway – Even though it may be slightly frowned upon, it is highly unlikely you will damage your chances too strongly if you pretend you cannot remember a specific instance. It’s a risky move, since some hiring managers ask the question to make sure you are being honest, but it is a move you can use nonetheless. If you fake memory loss, however, you should still explain what you would do to solve the problem if one had occurred.
The most important part of your answer is the explanation of how you solved the problem. Employers want to know you have problem solving skills, and that you do not consider disagreements to be a negative.
If you are asked to give a negative opinion of a coworker or supervisor, don’t fall into the trap. If you are aspect for a specific example of a disagreement, however, you can choose to either pretend that you cannot think of one and supply an example of how you will solve it or give a specific example but put a lot of emphasis on what you did to make the situation better.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Always try to remain positive.
- It’s okay to “forget” negative feelings.
- Focus on how you solved the problem.