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3 Winning Strategies for Answering Negative Interviewing Questions

Why DO employers ask negative questions? These questions are in fact designed to reveal your communication and soft skills, especially self-awareness, emotional health, and professionalism

HOW you answer is even more important that WHAT you answer. Your answers reveal how you react under pressure, your problem-solving skills, your emotional stability, and your level of honesty. (Yes, honesty is still a thing!)

These questions often uncover an insecurity or emotional instability. (Did you ever talk to someone who just started railing about a colleague or situation at work?… Or someone who just broke up with their significant other?) What did you think when they lost it? Most people just want to get away from them as soon as possible. You will get the same reaction during your interview.

So how do you answer these types of questions diplomatically, professionally, and authentically?

1)     Be smart and truthful when choosing the weakness, shortcoming, or flaw in your experience that you talk about. No one is perfect. This makes you more relatable. Just temper your answer so that it does not seem like an extreme flaw. Question could be:What is your worst quality? OR Tell me about a time that you made a mistake? If this quality/experience is critical to the job you are going for, you should probably pick another example to use…  i.e. if you are an air traffic controller, don’t say you get distracted easily…

2)     Talk about an improvement plan or new method to deal with that shortcoming that you have since learned, that minimizes the possibility of it happening in the future. If you annoyed a client or your boss by missing a deadline …i.e. talk about better time-management or organizational skills that you have since developed.

3)     Never make negative comments about your current company, boss, or co-workers… (even if you worked for the DEVIL himself).  Be very careful to remain tactful. There are challenges in every work environment. Your job when interviewing, is to not be emotional about describing the situation. If you are worried that you will lose it… i.e. talk about what you hope to gain from your new role that your last role just could not offer you. If you know how the situation would be better at the new job opportunity- then even better! Just don’t compare bosses!

So, do YOU have winning communication skills as well as being professional?  If you use the above strategies during interviews you are more than half way there.

Need other strategic interviewing, role-play, negotiation, or preparation help?

Let’s chat about your career aspirations.  425-392-7325





Employers examine competency, but what separates the best from the rest?  Questions that reveal core beliefs, vision, and the emotional intelligence of candidates, are becoming more and more prevalent. When faced with a negative question, there are ways to avoid talking about emotional or personal shortcomings.


… Talk about resentments and grudges

Question might be: Tell me about a time when you were hurt or disappointed? Even if harbored anger is justified, it is crippling to new experiences. It makes it hard to move forward and saps drive and energy. Don’t talk about blame. Instead: Talk about “moving on” in that situation.

…Talk about being a victim

Question might be: How did you respond to a failure in your career? Healthy individuals know that the world does not owe them anything. They bounce back from failures, and learn from these situations. Don’t complain about past injustices. Instead: Talk about taking responsibility and bouncing back.

…Talk about stress and drama

Question might be: What causes stress for you at work, and how do you deal with it? The very best candidates are low on drama, and don’t react to everyday worries as impossible situations. Don’t talk about needing control or calm.Instead: Talk about dealing with tough situations and the ability to stay focused.

…Talk about lack of contentment and motivation

Question might be: Tell me about the most difficult work situation you have been in?  Emotionally healthy people can say “no” to impossible requests and unethical situations with confidence. They know their worth, and they are able to give of themselves and be highly productive, without getting something in return or worrying about approval. Don’t talk about not being appreciated or a toxic situation. Instead: Talk about taking risks, and how past successes have fueled the desire for more.

Want stability, productivity, and achievement to be part of the environment at work?

Change the dialogue and change your career!

Lori Morefield-Berg is a consultant specializing in HR and development support for businesses, and providing career transition and job search assistance for individuals. She provides insight into the current job climate and provides an Advanced Search Plan  for acquiring a targeted career position through one-on-one sessions and custom assignments. Personal Re-Branding  is accomplished through an updated LinkedIn summary (keywords & algorithm), a Resume re-focusand targeted Interviewing techniques.


Selective Networking Can Lead to Success

May 5, 2016

It is a fact that you are influenced by those that you interact with on a daily basis. The type of people you interact with influences the consciousness level you operate in and the subject matter you engage in.  Remember when you were in school?  Did you hang out with those who were frequently immersed in negativity and inferiority doing comparisons with higher ranking students?  Did their negative thoughts rub off on you? If you are grounded in self-esteem or self- confidence you can still be your own person, but have these individuals helped you get from here to there?

When you “hang out” with people of higher consciousness their talent, habits, and behavior are very positive and driven.  It is uplifting just to be around them. They contrast sharply with those who lack a core focus.  This group operates at a much lower level.  Their day revolves around a day-to-day fear or self-concern.  They worry about money, eating, partying, but not so much about self-improvement or goals. There are many more prototypes of core behavioral groups, but you get the idea.

Your own consciousness and resilience is part of who you are, but you are also the total of the consciousness of the people you are with. Combined they weight the impact of who you become.  So, if you are surrounded by negative or fear-based people you will eventually become like-minded.  If you are hanging out with successful, positive-minded individuals you will become an individual who shapes their own future. The latter group can also help you to adjust your behavior to achieve your goals.

How does this translate to networking?  All networking is not created equal.  You have to be thoughtful about the types of people that you want to surround yourself with, and which you want to develop a deeper relationship around.  You contribute to a better environment for those people that you truly connect with.  You need to be the best you can be… to be the best you can be to them.

So, all networking is not created equal.  It is not about “nailing a few leads”, but about connecting and associating with those who can truly bring out the best in you and challenge you to be better.  For example in a dating scenario, if your partner does not inspire you to be a better person and be involved in things that you could not have done or experienced on your own, then wouldn’t you be better off hanging out by yourself?

In a job search situation, you should be careful to choose the organization that can best reflect and serve your most noble career goals.  Don’t settle for just a job.  Need help figuring out how to make networking work for you in your personal goals AND career?  You need to surround yourself with people that feed your soul.   How you make these choices is a process.  Have a career consultant put together a plan for you.  You deserve to experience success in your life.


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You Deserve a Satisfying Career

Sometimes when searching for a career, candidates get lost in the vernacular and simply “Can’t see the forest for the trees”. If you are purpose-driven that does not mean that you need to work at a Non-Profit, Health Care, or Educational organization. Choosing the industry rather than the culture of an organization is actually backwards. In fact, an astounding 60% of educators are NOT there to help students learn, but in fact are motivated by a paycheck.   This sounds counterintuitive but it is not. Just because someone is a doctor does NOT necessarily mean they chose their career to help humanity. Maybe they liked the status, money, or wanted to please their parents. Since I like to give analogies about dating; that translates into” NOT all Doctors will be your perfect match”, or “They are not created equal”. That is why you have to date them!

How does this relate to your job search strategy? You have to know what motivates you and what you truly enjoy. What does employee engagement mean to you? Working towards a greater good? Helping an individual move forward? Developing a policy that will change the direction of an organization? Educating others and directing them in a better methodology?

Being purpose-driven is exponentially more motivating and satisfying than just earning a paycheck, but less than half of employees feel that they are able to be that. It is a myth that you need a higher education or more experience to be able to secure a position where you can affect things and have a satisfying career.

So before you choose an industry, position, or a company, explore what the people and culture are truly like. One or two interviews (or dates) will not be enough. Enlist the help of a Career Transition Professional, especially if you are short on process, resources or time. If you are like-minded and motivationally matched to your new company; your new job experience will be more fulfilling, interesting, and long-lived. Why are you waiting until after you put in twenty years at the wrong company, to actually be somewhere that you will enjoy?



Toxic Workplaces

 You began your job eager and excited for growth inside a nurturing environment that would utilize your talents. So how did you end up stressed-out, cynical and depressed? Job searching is like dating. It may have sounded great on paper, and your initial meeting may have been electric, but after a few months the object of your affection actually starts revealing who they really are.

Like dysfunctional relationships, toxic workplaces (harmful, destructive or deadly to those regularly exposed) are defined by these characteristics:

Chronic High Stress– No downtime or a culture of fear or bullying.

Low Morale– No enthusiasm or joy.

No Work-Life Balance– Forced to choose between having a life and staying.

Increased Physical & Emotional Illness– You develop stress-related physical and/or emotional illnesses running the gamut from musculoskeletal problems, gastrointestinal upsets, anxiety & depression, to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Unrealistic expectations– But nobody seems to care.

Lack of Loyalty– Make you sign a contract that says that they can end the relationship at any time.

Immature  or Narcissistic Leader – Lack of empathy, support, and communication. High aggression, intimidation, criticizing & bullying, including a lack of morality and pitting others against each other.

As a job hunter you could have avoided this problem by either discreetly gathering information about the organization’s track record, or even talking to current and former employees. Red Flags include: interviewer discomfort, vague responses, blaming, and the previous employee leaving due to illness.

If you are leaving a toxic position, it is SO important that you don’t make a quick change and end up in the same environment all over again. One of the many benefits of using a professional Job Transition Consultant is to safely get you from one career to another with the needed forethought, market research and vetting. Use the past toxic job as a learning experience and avoid the same mistake again. Don’t hold yourself back by allowing the bad experience and your fear to shape your new career.

This wasn’t your fault. Do NOT feel like a failure for not meeting inhuman or unrealistic expectations. Don’t let this experience further victimize you. Get the career you want this time by utilizing a realistic plan and getting direction from a Professional Career Consultant.


What’s Your Personal Branding Strategy?

Are you marketing yourself in such a way that your target audience is convinced to “buy “ you- AFTER you are noticed by the right people? As in any marketing campaign this must be done on several levels. Think of a “product launch”. Will one commercial, print advertisement or outdoor sign be enough?

To brand yourself you must first have a clear idea about who you are. A resume is not just a list of responsibilities. What do you want to highlight from your background that relates to the new career that you are seeking? Most written job descriptions do not reflect qualities such as talents, personality, and abilities.

Now, who is interested in your new version of yourself? In other words, you need an analysis of the market, and then specifically the needs of businesses that will be searching social channels to find people such as yourself. Where do you need to be heard and seen? Which media or contact can help you to reach your target effectively?

Branding requires, acting as if you were already working for your desired employer at your new career. Write and display the skills, personality, and values that you think will be most interesting for your desired career market niche. Behave, dress, and talk as if you were already there. Be a walking, talking advertisement.

Not sure that Marketing is your strong suit? In the same way that you may only have a need for an attorney a few times in your lifetime; you may only make a few career changes. Would learning how to best try your case be as effective as having a professional do this for you? More is at stake than time and money when seeking professional career help. The goal is to win that dream job!


Need a Consultant or a Coach?

Whether you are a business manager or a member of a team;   a job seeker or a hiring employer … You need the type of one-on-one assistance that consultants and coaches can provide. The safety and security that is inherent in this dynamic allows for the behaviors of the participants to positively change without a loss of status or productivity.

The change that must accompany   forward thinking decisions and tangible results requires real motivation. Personal Motivation is dependent on emotions not standardized training or outside industry influences .

Training programs are becoming a costly and ineffective solution to changing   the individual team member’s or leader’s behaviors and imparting knowledge that is immediately going to be utilized and effective. Your budget would be better spent on contracting assistance that is targeted and objective.

So which do you need?   A Consultant or a Coach?

Consultant: Hired for their expertise at solving problems while providing ideas and processes that are quantifiable. They provide step-by-step solutions and translate complex processes into useable plans.

Coach: Inspires the client to higher achievement by listening, and allowing the client to be understood. This optimizes the chances of the client’s ownership of the desired results and the behavioral changes necessary for those results.

Both must motivate their clients to own the project and be accountable in order to be effective.

As in many other industry professions, being specialized or vertically siloed is no longer going to be enough. Independent consultants or coaching professionals must be multi-faceted and talented with more than one asset to offer their clients.

Who needs their help? The BUSINESS MANAGER – or the TEAM MEMBERS ? The JOB SEEKER – or the HIRING EMPLOYER   ?

All of these roles need this type of one-on-one assistance. The safety and security that is inherent in this dynamic allows for behaviors to change without fear. The majority of people make decisions through their learned experience and emotions . The buy-in necessary to effectively change teams, careers, and production requires a supportive, expert, and objective guidance from outside.

So the answer is that you need both skill sets in one person. The % of coaching/consulting blend will vary from client to client and session to session. These definitions apply to both Business-Oriented AND Career- Based Consultants and Coaches.  Investment in one of these professionals will be money well spent towards your future success.


Job Networking Do’s & Don’ts

Most jobs come through personal connections, so building your network should be a high priority on and off the job search. Networking takes work and practice. Anything you can do to stand out against the masses of job-seeking competitors can help you to get the job that you want.

Attending one event will not be sufficient to develop relationships with other professionals in your industry or with potential employers. To find upcoming events pay attention to sites like, and LinkedIn Events. Check Professional Organization web calendars as well as those of the local Chambers of Commerce. Ask your co-workers which events that they attend.

Once you have chosen a few events, make sure that you return to these venues on a fairly-regular basis. This is similar to “bill board” advertising or subliminal marketing. They see you and they start to remember you…. Eventually they think that they know you. People do business and offer opportunities to other people that they know, like, and trust. Be that person!  DON’T think “How can this person help me?” DON’T randomly hand out cards and leave. Think about forming new relationships and offering help or connections to others. Eventually these conversations will cause you to be the “ONE” they think of when an opportunity arises.  Always be your best. Success is where preparation meets opportunity.

Be clear about who you are, what you are looking for, and what you offer. A long lengthy discussion causes people to “zone out”. Don’t say I help people____. That sentiment is so overused that it rings insincerity. Talking about your passion is equally overused. Unless it is obvious or true that you were born to be a dog walker and just can’t get enough of it, it is better off unsaid. However, actually being highly motivated is very attractive. Be an expert. Be precise and targeted with your message. Know your market. Study your desired career “key words” to relate your abilities.

Being found is just one half of the equation. You must “sell” yourself to certain opportunities by “being” that person. You have a multi-faceted background and experience. Which aspect of your experiences are you highlighting? Have a professional help you with this.  All of your self-marketing materials and branding should be consistent.

Finally, treat a networking event as an opportunity to meet your next best friend. You never know how the event will change things unless you actually TALK to people and make connections. Never miss an opportunity to re-connect on social media, and get together with those that you actually feel a “spark” with. Yes, it does sound like dating, because it is.

Always be open, positive and eager to learn.  Ask  new connections to share their expertise.  By making a point of consistently meeting new people, you will learn MORE about your industry, profession, and the companies that you are interested in. When your “new connection” actually  talks about you to his/her hiring manager, it may actually make the difference.

Honing your networking skills might even help you to find the perfect job!



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