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How to Turn Negative Qualities Into Positive in Job Interviews

by Sara Mahuron

See that the glass is half full – even if it could be half empty. This doesn't require magic, just a bit of strategy and a change of viewpoint. Once you master this, you can turn your negative qualities and weaknesses into positives, should they come up in a job interview.

Minimize the Negative

Questions about your negative qualities, negative experiences and weaknesses can catch you off guard in an interview – after all, an interview is where you are supposed to shine. To avoid being dumbfounded, practice for these types of questions in advance. Employers ask these tricky questions to gain deeper insight into who you are as a person and employee. The trick for dealing with these is to always answer negative questions with a positive answer. You can do this for any question by minimizing the negative information and maximizing the positive.

Types of Negative Questions

It is helpful to know some of the different types of negative questions you might be asked. Negative-balanced questions are used by interviewers to overcome the assumption that you are impressive in all areas – just because you excel in one area doesn't mean you are automatically great at everything. Negative confirmation questions are asked when the interviewer believes she has found something she doesn't like, and she addresses the quality directly to prove her assumption. The interviewer asks behavioral questions so she can learn about your past behavior, which can help her predict your future behavior.

The Behavioral Interview

Behavioral interview questions ask you to tell about a time or experience where you faced a specific situation, struggled or dealt with conflict. These questions can be shockingly negative. They may ask how you dealt with a co-worker you didn't like, how you dealt with a problem you were unable to solve or how you resolved a disagreement with your boss. You could be asked to recount a time you failed. These questions can be uncomfortable. However, you just need to get the hang of them. Always answer with an example or brief story about a situation. Then tell how you overcame the obstacle or issue and end with a positive result or outcome.

Addressing Weaknesses

Claiming not to have any weaknesses is the wrong answer – the employer knows you are only human. When you are asked to give a weakness, always choose the one that is least related to the job you are applying for. When you talk about a weakness, also talk about the positive aspects, as most qualities can be both. Another approach would be to tell the employer about a weakness you had, but have since overcome. For current weaknesses, share how you are working to overcome the weakness. This shows you are self-aware, concerned with your own performance and always improving.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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