A woman during a job interview | JollyHires

Beyond Sugarcoating: How to be Honest and Positive in Job Interviews

Honesty is always considered to be the best policy. Every job interview requires contenders to stride a fine line. On one hand, when an interviewer poses a question to describe the challenges or mistakes at your previous job, you have got to answer with proper specifics about the challenge or mistake so that it doesn’t seem like you are trying to avoid the question. Research has proved that the hallmark of poorly rated candidates is mostly related to unspecific answers.

On the other hand, you must remember to share details about the challenges and mistakes in a way that you don’t seem negative or blaming. This is a very critical task because, after all, you want to make a good impression and show the interviewer that you are a positive and enthusiastic candidate.

1. The Black and White Thinking:

Statements like “I always seem to be ending up with the worst projects.” Or “There was no proper organized structure at my last job, and no one cared.” These both phrases are loaded with negative and absolutist language. Interviewers want candidates who are adaptable and willing to tackle challenges head-on and complain about them. The use of absolutes (for example: always, never, nobody) displays intellectual and emotional inflexibility. The black-and-white thinking exhibits the lack of ability of the candidate to see the shades of nuance and grey.

2. Weakness Unleashed: Strength Reborn

Sometimes, a weakness can be a strength in disguise. This is a tricky one, but if you are a little creative then this is a blessing as you can transfer your weakness to the column of strength. For example, “I’m a perfectionist, which means I always strive to do my best work. However, I’m also learning to let go of some of the details and trust that my work is still good enough.” This shows that you’re aware of your perfectionism, but you’re also able to see the positive side of it.

3. Right Answers Exist in the Question:

Recruiters inadvertently give away the right answer in the interview questions they ask. For instance, if they ask, “Please describe the time when there was mismanagement in your department and how did you overcome the same?” The words used in the later part of the question i.e., “How did you overcome the same?” gives you a reference that the answer must hold examples relating to the solutions of resolving the problem which in this case was ‘mis- management’.

4. Ask Questions:

An interview is a two-way street. The interview is not just for the interviewer to ask questions but more about mutual benefit where both parties know to get to know more about each other to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, ask the interviewer for clarification. This shows that you’re engaged in the conversation and that you’re interested in the job.

It’s also important to remember that honesty doesn’t mean being negative. You can be honest without badmouthing your earlier employers or coworkers. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your experience and what you learned from it.

Some more suggestions are given below:

  • When asked about the Strengths, be specific and supply Examples:

For example, instead of saying “I’m a diligent worker,” you could say “I’m a diligent worker because I’m always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. For example, at my last job, I stayed late several nights a week to finish a project that was due the next day.”

  • When asked about a time when you made a mistake, focus on what you learned from it:

For example, instead of saying “I made a mistake in my last job when I didn’t properly communicate with a client,” you could say “I learned from my mistake and I’m now much better at communicating with clients.”

  • When asked about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker, focus on how you resolved it:

For example, instead of saying “I had a conflict with a coworker in my last job,” you could say “I had a conflict with a coworker in my last job. We were able to resolve the conflict by communicating openly and honestly with each other.

  • Be Positive:

Even when you’re talking about negative experiences, try to focus on the positive. For example, if you’re asked about a time when you made a mistake, you could say “I made a mistake in my last job when I didn’t properly communicate with a client. I learned from my mistake and I’m now much better at communicating with clients.”

An added bonus point to add to this article and positively convey yourself is by making a ‘Digital Profile’. You might ask what a digital profile is? It is a Snapshot of online identity and professional presence, highlighting accomplishments and skills. The applications like JollyHires provide job seekers with this facility. In addition to this, you can also post an introductory video that helps you to positively introduce yourself to the Recruiter. This helps you to overcome the overly negative answers that you tend to give in an interview.

By following these tips, you can be honest in a job interview without sounding overly negative. This will show the interviewer that you’re a trustworthy and reliable candidate who is willing to work hard and learn from your mistakes.

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Written by JollyHires Editors

JollyHires is dedicated to connecting job seekers and employers for their next big opportunity. Check out our blog for expert advice on job searching, interviews, and more, based on market trends and employment data. Connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and begin your job search or post a job today!

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