As an interviewer, you sometimes have to get tough to circumvent the pat answers of job candidates. One blogger says that you shouldn’t be afraid to go negative. Here are his tips.


There is a host of interviewing advice out there for job candidates. Much of the advice concerns how to circumvent interview questions that might require the job candidate to give out information he or she doesn’t want to. Of course, this means that interviewers will have to step up their game to circumvent the circumventers.

In the blog, there was this advice regarding what interviewers can do to get the information they need from a candidate: Get negative.

This is what getting negative looks like in the behavioral interviewing scene:

–“That’s good (referring to an answer), but it doesn’t really answer my question. Tell me….”

–“I need more detail about what you did in the situation. What you’re giving me is very high level, I need to dig into the details with you.”

–“That happened a long time ago. Do you have a similar experience that’s happened in the last year?”

–“Most of the examples you are giving me are team oriented. We value teams here, but for purposes of you being a candidate, I need to know what you did, not what the team did. Focus me on what you did.”

–“That’s a great example with a good outcome. Now tell me about a situation where you used a similar strategy but it didn’t work out for you.”

–“Tell me about a time where you’ve been fired or taken off a project due to your performance.”

–“I’m struggling to understand the details of what you’ve done in these situations. Once you tell me about a scenario, start giving me deep, deep details of what you did, not what the team did, not what you usually would do in that situation, but what you actually did.”

–“You keep telling me what you usually do in situations. I’m not interested in hypotheticals, I’m interested in what you have actually done.”

Some of these sound a little harsh to me — I’m picturing the job candidate in a blindfold with a cigarette dangling from his lips — but managers might find a varation of these suggestions useful.