Why you should NEVER be negative in an interview

Darragh McCarthy 20.07.2015

One of the golden rules of interviewing is to never be negative, yet breaking this rule is also one of the most common reasons why people don’t get offered a job.

Ask anyone if they would rather work with someone who is positive or someone who is negative, and you’ll always get the same answer. If you can’t maintain a sense of positivity throughout 60 minutes of an interview, you can be sure that the interviewer will assume that you will be even more negative on the job, and that hiring you might mean dragging your new team and company down with you.

Showing how you have learned and developed from all of your past experiences makes you the person and the professional you are today, so don’t fall into the trap of dwelling on the negatives.

Being negative about a past employer is probably the number one reason why people fail in an interview when their experience and skillset seem ideal. A simple reason for this is that employers will wonder what you might say about them in the future, especially when you are so keen to disparage your previous manager or company.

Hiring managers and companies expect candidates to display diplomacy and discretion where required. Sure, not every work environment is the best on the world, but how you verbalise this will reflect you and your character in either a positive or negative light.

Instead of saying, try saying these alternatives:

My boss was a tyrant and he clashed on a personal basis with me and nearly everyone elseIt was a very challenging environment with many strong personalities.
We were expected to work ridiculous hours and it meant that I had no social life.With the demands of the role, it meant that maintaining a positive work/life balance was challenging.
I hated working there, it was horrible.It was a tough environment but I learned a lot and developed further which I believe makes me a much stronger person today.


You don’t have to lie to be positive in an interview, but you do need to show the self-awareness to understand that how you get your point across matters. Sure, there are horrible bosses and there are companies which aren’t nice places to work, but just be mindful of how you deal with this delicate reality and don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Being positive will not guarantee that you get the job, but you can be sure that being negative will guarantee that you definitely won’t!

Darragh McCarthy's picture
Associate Director