Past Issues

April 04, 2011

Stay Relaxed During a Job Interview

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Stay Relaxed During a Job Interview

By Lindsay Olson, Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs

Have you ever found yourself in an interviewing situation where the hiring manager asked you about a negative quality or an uncomfortable issue related to a previous job? Some interviewers love asking these high-pressure types of questions, so it's best to be prepared to answer them.

These are a few tricky questions you should think about prior to interviewing and how to handle them:

Tell me about your last performance review. In which area were you most disappointed? How could you have improved your performance?

Continuous improvement is what most people strive for in their careers. If you are asked a similar question, you should answer it honestly. You should describe a specific situation, not generalities, and discuss how, with what you know now, you could have handled the situation better. Coming across as a person with no faults is disingenuous. It's important to show your prospective employer that you take responsibility for these issues and have learned from them.

Where do you disagree with your boss most often? Tell me about how you handled the last situation where your boss was wrong and you were right.

We all disagree with our colleagues and managers occasionally. There's a big difference between sticking up for yourself and always being ready to wage war when opinions collide. Teamwork and positive relationships between the staff are highly valued in the workplace and the hiring manager needs to see that a potential staff member can keep an objective view when dealing with a disagreement. Be honest, talk about the specific situation, and don't gloat about your victory.

What would you change about our company?

This is a tricky question. You need an answer because every position is hiring someone to solve a problem and come up with innovative solutions. At the same time, a hiring manager doesn't want someone to come in before they've had the opportunity to really understand their issues and try to change everything. Your answer needs to be non-threatening, open, logical, and address issues that you know the company needs to solve.

Also keep in mind that meeting with a hiring manager who asks an unusual amount of negative questions could be a cue to proceed with caution. But don't dismiss a few of these types of questions for a bad work environment. It could also be a sign of how you are coming across in the interview. Sometimes interviewers use these types of negative self-evaluation questions to bring an overly confident candidate down a notch before making a decision to accept or reject a candidate.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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