When a hiring manager asks you about a time when you had to give difficult feedback, they are not really asking about the feedback you had to give. The interviewer is trying to ascertain how you deal with giving bad news. That shows them how you will fit in at their company. The way you answer tells them about your values and how you lead.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, as with all interview questions, you want to make sure to put your best foot forward. You can do this by emphasizing the right skills and traits.
- Even though you are talking about a difficult situation, make sure to keep your answer positive.
- Talk about why you made the decision you did. If you did it for the good of the team, to help better the worker or things of that nature, it will show the interviewer that you are a team player.
- Explain how you gave the feedback. How you treated the person who was getting negative feedback will say a lot about your work ethic and how you lead.
- Discuss how this situation helped you grow. Learning from difficult circumstances shows that you can turn any situation into a positive.
Keep in mind that the interviewer is trying to get a feel for how you work, and if you will fit in at their company.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
You also want to make sure to avoid certain answers that will make you look less than desirable.
- Do not belittle anyone in the telling of the story.
- Do not be vague. Try to give specifics wherever possible.
- Beware of giving an answer that makes you look indecisive or rude.
- Try not to become defensive about your actions.
Keep your answer honest, and it will show the interviewer that you have good qualities.
Here is an example of what a good answer to this question might look like:
I was once tasked with giving some peer review to fellow supervisors. I had to let some of them know that there were certain areas that they needed to improve on. This was difficult because they were my equals. I diffused the situation by letting them know what they did well first, and then bringing up where they could improve. I also made it clear that it would be easy to improve, and that nobody is perfect.
Showing that you tried to help the other person better themselves is a good way to answer the question.