Perfect Resume career blog

How to Handle a Negative Question


From the desk of Kent Lee, CEO of Perfect Resume.

We did an interview coaching session with an Executive Vice President for a large corporation a couple weeks ago who was worried about the fact that she hadn't completed a college degree. We coached her that the strategy to keep in mind anytime you get a question that focuses on something negative is this: Have a confident, short answer (under 30 seconds) that redirects the question to one of your strengths.

Let me give you an example of how this might look/sound in an interview for our client that we coached today:

Interviewer: "I noticed that you don't have a degree. Why didn't you finish your college education?"
Candidate: "When I was in college I got promoted into a Store Manager position. At that point, I chose to focus on my career and accelerated very quickly through the corporate ranks, from Store Manager, to General Manager, District Manager, Regional Manager, and I've been a Vice President for the last 10 years."

Notice how the candidate doesn't spend a lot of time discussing education, the value of education, or plans to return to college to complete a degree. Doing so would only reemphasize that fact that she does NOT have a degree.

Instead, the redirect focuses on this candidate's strengths and emphasizes the fact that she has held several high-level management positions, has been promoted several times, and has been a VP for the last 10 years.

The next time you get a potentially negative question in an interview remember: Have a confident, short answer, that redirects to one of your strengths.


Have an important interview coming up? We are here to help by offering interview training sessions with our seasoned career experts.

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