Let’s see if this scenario sounds familiar: You’re in the interview hot seat, but so far, you’re pretty sure you’re nailing it—until the hiring manager throws you a curveball. The dreaded “What’s your biggest weakness?” comes up. Or better yet, “Why are you leaving your current job?” We know you’re thinking of your favorite four-letter word. “Negative” interview questions—the ones that seemingly want you to discuss a personal weakness—are in fact designed to reveal your interpersonal skills and self-awareness. Employers want to hire someone who can acknowledge shortcomings, work well with team members and commit to personal and professional development.
“When interviewers ask negative questions,” says Alyssa Gelbard, founder of New York City-based career consulting and personal branding firm Resume Strategists, “they want to know the actual answers to the questions, how you handle something challenging, as well as your level of self-awareness and honesty.”
She adds that negative interview questions often highlight an insecurity or strong emotion because the interviewer wants to test your confidence as well as whether you take responsibility or blame someone else. We asked job search and career experts to share tips for answering negative interview questions honestly, diplomatically and professionally.
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