Can You Describe A Time When Your Work Was Criticized?

Questions like this one are called behavioral interview questions, and they are designed to reveal how you deal with stress or tough situations. By hearing how you describe criticism, the interviewer hopes to be able to gauge your capacity to take criticism and other negative information. Your choice about how to present the feedback and your description of your response to it are both key to getting the most out of your answer.

Points to Emphasize

The important part is how you process the information, so keep that in mind, along with these key points.

  • Discuss the facts of the feedback as much as possible, emphasizing measurable changes that were suggested.

  • Clearly describe your process for sorting the information and identifying the most important elements in the feedback.

  • Show how you implemented that information to improve.

  • Remember to discuss any feedback that could not be implemented or acted on, so that the interviewer understands why you chose to ignore it.

Mistakes You Should Avoid

It can be difficult to discuss negative messages, but there are a few easy-to-identify signs that your answer still needs to be groomed.

  • Sharing your opinion about the quality of the feedback is a bad idea. It’s one thing to identify the actionable parts and find there aren’t many, but you don’t want to openly judge it.

  • Don’t disparage the project, even if there were fundamental changes that needed to be made.

  • Identify how the feedback strengthened or redirected your core goals, to show how it is fully integrated into your process and not an afterthought.

  • Never forget that adjustments and revision are part of the process, and that they need to be discussed as such.

Sample Answer

Here’s an example of an approach that many people find successful.

At my last job, I was covering recruiting prospective students in Texas for this liberal arts school in Michigan, and I was having a tough time when you compared my numbers there to my district here in the state. One colleague suggested that I focus on students whose professional goals might take them away from the state anyhow, and once I found the demographic that worked with, I was really able to hit my target. The key was knowing that core factor to look out for, and I was glad to have it pointed out.

Showing your appreciation for the people who want you to do better is a great way to emphasize teamwork skills.

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