Putting a Positive Spin on Tough Job Interview Questions

We all know that nobody wants to be around a sour puss – much less hire one. A cheerful person with great presentation skills and a positive outlook is most likely to be considered favorably during an interview. However, it can be hard to maintain that positivity when a potential employer asks tough questions about difficult situations.  For instance:

“Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a boss or co-worker.
How did you handle the situation?”
“What kinds of things make it difficult for your to do your job?”
“Why are you leaving your current job?”

In asking this type of question, interviewers are trying to find out
how you deal with difficult situations and whether you are able to
solve problems constructively. Also, they want to learn about your
personality, and how you react to negative situations.

Here are some presentation skills and tips for projecting a positive attitude even when answering the most difficult questions:

Use Positive Body Language

It’s hard to project positivity when you’re slumped in your chair,
not smiling, or listless. Sit up straight, smile pleasantly, and look
alert and enthusiastic. These small actions are some of the most basic
presentation skills that go a long way in helping you put your best
foot forward.

Choose Stories that Have a Good Ending

It’s okay to take a moment to formulate your best answer. Think
through where your example will end before you begin the story, so you
don’t talk yourself into a negative outcome. (For more information
about pauses and silences during an interview, click here .)

Balance the Bad with Some Good

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In every example you give, be sure to include some redeeming
quality. For instance, in explaining how a lack of information impeded
your progress during an important project in your last job, you can
mention that as a result you learned about a little-known website that
was very helpful and that you were able to share it with your

Be a Problem-Solver

Don’t just talk about the problem. Demonstrate your problem-solving
skills by explaining how you turned the negative situation into a
positive one.

Never, Never, Never Bad-mouth Anyone!

No matter how you feel personally about the story you’re telling, or no
matter how much the other person was a fault, it is a big mistake to
say anything negative about another person. This can make you sound
like you may be likely to badmouth people in your new job. Even worse,
your potential employer may wonder if you might speak this way about
him or her if you leave this job. The best policy is to just present
the facts objectively, and then use your presentation skills to apply
your positive spin.

Another favorite question interviewers like to as is, “When you’re in a bad mood, how does it show?” 
Your first inclination may be to answer that you’re more quiet than
normal, or you keep to yourself. However, this tells the interviewer
that you may be prone to letting your personal life interfere with your
work. The answer to this question should be, “It doesn’t!” (And then, when you get hired, be sure you follow through with this answer!)

Interviewers do not expect you to be perfect, or to never encounter
difficulties. However, they do want to know that you react to and deal
with adversity in a constructive way. So use these simple presentation
skills to put a positive spin on negative situations, and you’ll excel
at answering these difficult interview questions.

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From the Desk of Damen Choy.
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