Behavioral interview questions: How to stay positive when the question is negative

I have been thinking about how I would answer the question, “Describe a time that you were working on a project with someone who wasn’t doing their job. How did you overcome this hurdle?” There was this one time that I picked up the slack on a project after my co-worker dropped the ball, but how do I frame the situation in a positive way? I don’t want to be negative.

Good thinking. You should always answer behavioral questions positively, even if you are describing a tough situation. Never use words like, “lazy, stupid, useless, failure”. Instead, you should emphasize the positive results.

Maybe your coworker dropped the ball because they were going through a personal or family crisis. Or perhaps they were overwhelmed with another aspect of their job. By identifying why your coworker was struggling, you can convey to your interviewer that you’re an empathetic coworker, as well as emotionally intelligent.

If you had to pick up your coworker’s slack, then there’s also a good chance that you performed tasks that don’t typically fall under your job description, which means that this experience may have forced you to develop new skills.

No matter what, this experience demonstrates that you are dependable and will get the project done, even when something unexpected occurs.