When a hiring manager is trying to assess your interpersonal skills, he or she may ask you about a time that you had to provide negative or otherwise challenging feedback.
By asking this question, your interviewer hopes to learn whether you can communicate effectively, address issues in the workplace and motivate others during difficult times. Giving negative feedback requires honesty, thoughtfulness and tact. Answering this question well can help show an interviewer that you would be a good fit for a managerial position or a position that involves working closely with others.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, focus on the personality traits or strategies that enable you to communicate difficult information effectively by taking the following steps:
Although you’ll need to describe the nature of the feedback, don’t dwell on it too much, since your interpersonal style is the real focus of this question.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This question may seem simple, but it is possible to answer it poorly. Be careful to avoid the following common missteps:
Giving the interviewer a detailed and carefully thought out description of a challenging situation will best demonstrate why you would make a good hire.
To answer this question, you might give a response that sounds something like this:
One of our employees started frequently coming in late to work. I explained to her why I was concerned about this behavior — it violated our policies and negatively affected her co-workers. She acknowledged the problem, and I asked if there was a reason for the change from her usual punctuality. After she explained that a family caregiving situation was the issue, we agreed that she would give early notice on days with potential scheduling issues, and we would work on adjusting her scheduling a few days each week.
With a strong answer to this question, you can help your interviewer learn why your interpersonal style would make you an excellent employee.