How Do You Feel About Taking No For An Answer?

During a job interview, a hiring manager may ask you a question like, “How do you feel about taking no for an answer?” When you hear this question, it may seem confusing as to what the hiring manager is really asking. On the one hand, he will use this question to determine whether or not you can respect authority.

On the other, he’ll use it to measure how easily you cave when someone other than an authority figure says no.

Points to Emphasize

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when you answer this question. Keep the below points in mind when formulating an answer and you should hopefully be successful with answering.

  • Make a distinction as to how you would respond based on who is saying no.
  • If it’s a supervisor saying no, respond that you would respect his or her decision.
  • It’s also a good idea to mention your willingness to understand the decision so that you can improve for the future.
  • Make it clear that if the rejection were coming from someone you supervise or manage, you’d want to understand the reasoning for his or her response and to explain the importance of your decision.

Mistakes You Should Avoid

If you’re not prepared for this question, it could throw you off during the interview. The following guidelines will help you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes:

  • Don’t just say “fine,” because it doesn’t address the question thoroughly.
  • You’ll also want to avoid being unnecessarily positive about being okay with taking no for an answer.
  • Avoid stating that you don’t like taking no for an answer, even with the caveat that the person saying it might not have the authority to do so.
  • If you mention that it depends on the situation, make sure you’re clear about what those different situations could be.

This question is tricky because both “fine” and “upset” won’t showcase your willingness to learn and adapt.

Sample Answer

To get an idea of how you might answer a question about someone saying no, refer to the example below:

If it were a supervisor or manager, etc., I would definitely respect the decision and would ask how I can improve for the future. If it were a client, I would also be respectful but would try to learn more about their reasoning for saying no so that I can address any concerns or misunderstandings.

Your answer to this question will depend in large part upon the job you’re applying for. If it’s in sales and the job is commission-based, for example, you’ll want to less willing to give up.

About the Author

LiveCareer Staff Writer

At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common: they are authorities on the job market. From journalists with years of experience covering workforce topics, to academics who study the theory behind employment and staffing, to certified resume writers whose expertise in the creation of application documents offers our readers insights into how to best wow recruiters and hiring managers, LiveCareer’s stable of expert writers are among the best in the business. Whether you are new to the workforce, are a seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, LiveCareer’s contributors will help you move the needle on your career and get the job you want faster than you think.


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