how to say no

Image courtesy of pakorn at

I wrote this article for because I felt my readers interviewing for jobs could use every advantage they could get. It’s important to keep an interview upbeat and positive, and when you say “No” to a direct question put forward by an interviewer, it tends to create a feeling of negativity.

So the question becomes, how to do you say “No” without actually saying “No”? This is where diplomacy and tact come in. As a former recruiter, I have come across five commonly-asked interview questions where it is sometimes necessary to answer in the negative. For instance, what if an interviewer asks you if you were prepared to take a pay cut? Without actually telling the interviewer to take a hike, there is a diplomatic way of handling that question. Also, what if the interviewer asked whether you were prepared to work weekends and evenings? What if they ask you about skills or experience that you don’t have? Again, there are diplomatic ways of handling those questions.

Being human, many of us avoid negativity. Japanese people, who are concerned with harmony in society, have a reputation for avoiding the use of the word “No” in public discourse (even though their gestures might indicate a different message).

So learn from the Japanese, and try to keep things positive, especially during an interview! Put yourself in a positive light during an interview, and avoid saying anything that might be perceived in a negative way. By following my tips in this article, you will come across as being polite and tactful, while making your intentions and desires clear, during the job interview process.