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Answering Negative Interview Questions

During an interview it’s important to put your best foot forward and remain positive, upbeat and optimistic. This is not the time to complain about past job duties, co-workers, or bosses. While you may have the best intentions to stay positive and upbeat during the interview, it can be easy to be thrown off when you are asked questions that are inherently negative in nature. Common negative interview questions include:

  • 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 hard to remain positive when asked such questions! Below we’ll go over some suggestions on how to answer these tricky interview questions and turn potential weaknesses into strengths!

Focus on How You’ve Grown
If you answer a question acknowledging a mistake or weakness of yours, follow up with saying what you learned from that experience and how you’ve grown. Focus on the lessons you learned which have better prepared you for the future.

Try to Avoid Using Negative Words
Avoid using words like “hate”, “won’t”, or “don’t”. Try to soften your answer and don’t match a negative question with a negative answer. Spin it into something positive and avoid using any heated language. We wrote a blog about the importance of the words you say during an interview and that is a great reference for this as well.

Stay Calm!
Don’t panic if you’re being interviewed and are presented with a negative question that you didn’t prepare for. Remember the tips above and take a moment before you answer to gather your thoughts.

While some interview questions you encounter may have a negative tone, it’s important to answer such questions truthfully but turn them into a positive answer.

We hope this serves as a good quick reference to remember during your interview prep. There are often at least 1-2 negative interview questions you can expect during your interview so it’s important to remember that the goal when answering such questions is to turn them into a positive answer and show the hiring manager that you would be a great employee.

Answering Negative Interview Questions

Career Mistakes People Make During Economic Downturns

While the country continues to open back up after COVID-19, there is no doubt it will take some time before the economy and job market is back to what it was pre-pandemic. The US employment report for May shocked many as we saw the unemployment rate fall to 13.3% (from its previous 14.7%), as the economy gained 2.5 million jobs. While it’s hard to say what will happen in the coming months, I think most agree the job market will take time to fully recover. During economic downturns there are some common career mistakes people make and below we address those and strategies to continue to move forward with your career during these times.

Pretending Your Job is Untouchable
If you are fortunate, and your job wasn’t impacted in the last couple of months, you may think you’re out of the woods. While it’s comforting to think that your position is untouchable, the pandemic has blindsided many with the opposite. We have seen solid roles that people had before the pandemic cut completely or furloughed. It’s better to be prepared now for a layoff (even if that isn’t an immediate threat) then to be shocked and not ready should that happen. So what are some things you can be doing now, just in case? Simple things like updating your resume and LinkedIn page, getting recommendations for said LinkedIn page, and continuing to network (even virtually). Taking steps now, even if that leaves you over-prepared, is a better strategy then panicking later on if you unexpectedly lose your job.

Losing Focus of Your Career Goals
While it’s important to be prepared should you lose your job, it’s equally, if not more important, to continue to focus on your career goals and dreams. In last week’s blog we talked about not losing sight of your long-term goals and continue working towards them even during these uncertain times. It can be challenging to remain positive during an economic downturn but by working towards your career goals you’ll feel empowered knowing you are progressing towards that vision for yourself.

Assuming No One is Hiring
Just because we are in an economic downturn, don’t make the assumption there aren’t companies hiring right now. While there have been massive layoffs in the last couple of months, there are also companies such as e-commerce, technology and healthcare that have experienced growth and expansion. If you are unhappy in your job, or need a new role to continue your career growth, take a look at what’s out there, speak to a recruiter, and explore your options.

We remain hopeful that the unemployment rate will continue to drop and we will eventually get back to a “new normal”. Although the above tips are helpful during an economic downturn, they are also applicable at any time.

Career Mistakes People Make During Economic Downturns

Don't Lose Sight of Your Long-term Goals

There is a lot going on in the world right now and it’s easy (and completely understandable) to get swept up in the recent news events. While all this is going on, many employees are returning to the office and trying to find some sense of normalcy again in the workplace. If you feel like you are simply treading water at the moment, only completing those necessary day-to-day tasks, it’s equally important to remind yourself of your long-term career goals and work towards them. If you are finding yourself a little stagnant at work, we have some suggestions to help change that.

What Are Your Goals?
If you haven’t asked yourself this question in awhile, it’s important to revisit what your long-term career goals are and write them down. Once you have your list, take the time to write down the small actionable steps you need to take in order to reach those bigger goals. Vincent Van Gogh famously said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Large/long term goals take time. You should map out how you are going to get there with realistic and time bound smaller steps.

Tie in Your Personal Values
While writing down what your long-term goals are, really examine and see if they align with your personal core values. If you don’t have a strong case and belief in why you want to achieve these goals, chances are it won’t be motivating enough to follow through. With this pivotal time in history, many are asking how they can give back and better serve their communities. You may find that your long-term goals align with this very question and having goals that go beyond benefiting only yourself can be more motivating.

Continue Monitoring
Success takes time! Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and re-examine and re-evaluate what they are frequently. The more you monitor your progress the better it will be to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can adjust accordingly. Set milestones on your calendar and monitor frequently to see if you are progressing towards your goals as you thought you would. If not, you have to ask yourself if that’s really something you want and if so, what is hindering you from progressing towards that goal.

We hope these suggestions are helpful. It’s easy to get caught up in your day to day tasks and lose sight of your long-term career goals, but remind yourself that having something to work towards gives you a sense of purpose and drive. Write down your goals, take those small actionable steps to get there, and hold yourself accountable.

Don't Lose Sight of Your Long-term Goals

How to Resolve Conflict with a Co-Worker

It is often recommended that we try to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. As hard as we try to keep the relationships in both unattached, that can be extremely challenging considering just how many hours we actually spend with co-workers. Have you every stopped to think about that number? At least 40 – on a good week – surpassing the amount of time we have with family and friends. Because of this, bonds are easily created with our colleagues that are unlike any other. On the flip side, spending so much time (either in-person or virtually these days) can often result in arguments that aren’t resolved by the time 5 o’clock rolls around. Here are a few ways to confront the issue before it takes a toll on your performance:

Squash the Gossip
When you are clashing with a co-worker, venting to the rest of your team is most likely your first approach – You need to get it off your chest and tell your side of the story before they hear it from the other person. While this may seem like a great idea at the time, it is definitely not the most professional way to handle the situation. Not only is it unfair to the person you are feuding with, but it could also give you a reputation as the office gossip. Instead of putting others in the middle, try discussing the issue with a friend or family member outside of your work environment – This will give you someone to talk to that may also provide an unbiased opinion.

Speak Face-to-Face or on the Phone
Waiting too long to discuss the issue will only make for more awkward and hostile interactions. If the idea of confronting someone in person makes your cringe, then email will undoubtedly be your method of choice for resolving the issue at hand. While this is obviously the easier, less confrontational approach, it is also the most inefficient. We all have experience with words getting lost in translation and tone of voice being misunderstood through technology, and this can be heightened when both parties involved are feeling defensive. In order to avoid creating new conflicts, stepping out of your comfort zone and into the ring of fire is the best way to clear up the disagreement – And, sometimes, this gesture alone will soften the conversation. If you have the opportunity, speak to them in person and if that isn’t an option give them a call.

Find Middle Ground
No matter the argument, everyone has their side of the story and might feel very strongly about being “right”. Entering this discussion with the sole purpose of proving yourself will only get you so far and will likely cause more anger. Each person involved should take the opportunity to introduce their point of view, but then take the time to find middle ground. Remind each other that you at least have one thing in common – passion for the job – and do not want to burn bridges.

Lastly, remind yourself to be open-minded and learn something from this situation. Be thoughtful and recognize where you contributed to the argument as this will hopefully assist in avoiding similar future conflicts. While disagreements in the work place are inevitable, how you handle them is key. Restoring the broken communication will only make your relationship with the team stronger!

How to Resolve Conflict with a Co-Worker

How To Take Better Notes

If you are working in the corporate world you may think your days of note taking are long behind you. However note taking isn’t just for high school and college students. Note taking is a key part of any successful business meeting and can help you remember key points that were brought up during the meeting. Studies show note taking helps engrain important facts in your mind better than if you didn’t take notes. So now that you know why note taking is important, let’s look at some ways to improve your note taking abilities so you can go into your next meeting with pen and paper primed for optimal note taking.

Take notes by hand
Studies show those who take notes by hand instead of on a laptop have a tendency to include more details. One of the reasons is because when people type notes on their computer they are more likely to take long notes vs those who write out their notes by hand. When you are taking notes by hand you end up being more selective with what you write because you can’t write as fast as you type. We highly suggest leaving your laptop or tablet behind during your next meeting and just bringing pen and paper. By being selective with the notes you take in your meeting you’ll have just the key things to review later instead of a bunch of fluff.

Review and Revise
After your meeting and your notes have been jotted down, take a few minutes while the meeting is fresh on your mind to review your notes. Things you should do during this time are:

  1. Make revisions and highlight and underline important key elements
  2. Add in some extra thoughts that may be helpful for later on to remind you of the important issues brought up in the meeting
  3. Note any action items regarding what you need to do next

Also note, if you have a chance before the meeting is over it’s smart to quickly go over your notes and make sure you don’t have any questions/concerns.

We hope this blog was helpful in providing you with the tools you need to take your note taking skills up a notch.

How To Take Better Notes