Being Positive or Negative in an Interview

Did you ever get the type of interview question that asks for your opinion on what that company could do better or what you would change about XYZ product?

As I’ve asked that question to someone I’m interviewing and have been asked that question as the person being interviewed, I’m always interested to see whether the answer comes across as positive or negative.

And I still debate in my head about which one is “better”.

Don’t get me wrong, when I’m interviewing someone I don’t want them to be all pie-in-the-sky and disingenuous and say everything is perfect and we should just keep doing what we’re doing (too positive), but when I’m answering the question and going into detail about things I would change I can’t help but to feel like I’m too negative.

Once, an interviewer from Amazon asked me how I would change a particular category at Amazon. Instead of commenting on the actual things that were implemented (both ideal and not ideal), I described how I would try to make the category better through entirely new services and offerings.  In this case I felt like it was a win-win because I wasn’t necessarily critiquing something that existed but it was something to improve overall. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it seemed to work at that moment.

What’s your strategy when answering those types of questions?  What do you prefer to hear when you’re asking those questions?

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