How to Answer Negative Interview Questions

March 7th, 2015 by lewis


How would you answer these questions at the job interview?

  • Did you get fired?
  • Did you not get promoted in seven years due to poor performance?

It’s easy to get tongue-tied when you’re on the receiving end of these questions. However, Dan Broden reminds us that job seekers can deal with these questions elegantly. He recommends two different types of phrases when answering a negative question.

When You Can Comfortably and Credibly Deny the Negative Question

Consider beginning your answer with these phrases:

  • No
  • Not at all
  • That’s not accurate
  • I disagree
  • Absolutely not
  • It’s quite the opposite
  • To the contrary

When You Cannot Comfortably and Credibly Deny the Negative Question

Begin your answer with these phrases instead:

  • We see it differently
  • I wouldn’t use those words
  • I wouldn’t put it that way
  • That’s not the way we see it
  • I take issue with your contention
  • That hasn’t been our area of focus

What Happens Next

After using these phrases to assertively respond to the question, bridge to a message that provides more context for your assertion.

Photo credit: Model UN

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