AUTHOR:
Ashlyn V.

DATE:
May 12, 2015

CATEGORIES:
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
2 minutes

FOLLOW US

If You Can't Say Something Nice… Do it Anyway!

AUTHOR:
Ashlyn V.

DATE:
May 12, 2015

CATEGORIES:
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
2 minutes

Part of the business world involves working with other people, and not everyone will work the same way you do. Personality clashes and negative experiences happen, and it’s sometimes hard not to focus on what went wrong. But in an interview, being negative about a past position or an old company can hurt you.

Interviewers will likely ask you about challenges you faced at a previous job. If recruiters ask about a specific instance of conflict, they aren't looking to hear how you’re better than someone else. They're looking to see how you can resolve a difficult situation.

In an interview, you need to put a positive spin on those negative moments. Let’s say you had a problem between you and one of your co-workers: her assignments were usually running behind.

Here’s what you want to avoid:

“When I worked at (insert previous employer), there was one employee I had to work with all the time. She was always starting things late, and we sometimes had to push back deadlines. I constantly had to remind her about her stuff. Even with my reminders, we barely finished things on time and I had to pick up the slack for her mistakes. It would have gone much better if we had done it my way and started earlier.”

While this may have been true, this might set off warning bells to recruiters. They don’t want to hear how you micro-managed your co-workers and blamed them if something went wrong. They want to know if you can handle a situation like this. If you badmouth your current co-workers, what will you have to say about your new ones?

A better way to tell the story would be:

“When I worked at (insert previous employer), I often worked with other associates on (insert project). We had a few different work styles on our team. There was one employee I was often paired with who worked well under pressure. She’d work right to the deadline, while I preferred to have time to review my work before sending the final version to the boss. When I worked with this employee, we tended to do things her way: down to the wire. It frustrated me, but I also learned how to do my job well while having some extra pressure on me.  Because of that experience, I’m now more confident when working on tight timelines.”

See the difference?  You’re going to be asked about how your experiences at past jobs have set you up for this one. If some of those experiences are negative for you, it’s a good idea to look at what you were able to learn from them. Practice talking about your challenges as ways you were able to develop as a professional. Being able to show you handle challenges well is a plus – and is definitely something recruiters will be looking for in an interview.


Share this Article

Ashlyn V.

Ashlyn is a Corporate Recruiter in College Station, Texas. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she studied Agricultural Business and now manages the Reynolds Summer Intern Program for College Station and Houston. Outside of the office, she competes in equine events, spends time with her friends and family, and enjoys traveling and cooking.