Negatively Phrased Interview Questions

Negatively Phrased Questions - Be Prepared

More times than not you will be asked a negatively phrased question that the interviewer hopes will reveal a weakness and a strength.


  • Describe a time when you missed a deadline on an important project.
  • Describe the type of bad decisions you have made as a manager.

Your answer not only reveals a mistake you made, but also says a lot about your ability to handle stressful or negative situations. This is your opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, because the ability to acknowledge a mistake is often seen as a sign of maturity and leadership. Assuming that you can wing it is a bad approach to negative questions. More times than not that leads to disappointment - not to mention you probably won't get the job. When responding to negative questions, keep in mind these three points, which will help ensure thoughtful and winning answers:

  • Briefly state the incident in which the problem or mistake occurred.
  • Explain how you overcame the problem as it related to that particular situation.
  • Describe the steps you took to ensure that such a problem would not happen again.

The end result is to convince the interviewer that you learned from this experience and have overcome this particular weakness.