Tell Me About A Situation When Your Work Was Criticized.

When a hiring manager asks about a time when you were criticized, they’re trying to get an understanding of how you respond to authority. Some people don’t like being told that they did something poorly. The interviewer is trying to see if you are one of those people. Can you let someone in authority, or even a peer, tell you that your work was subpar?

Your reaction to this situation will tell the hiring manager a lot about your personality. It’s important that you be able to take criticism well, because if you get this new position chances are you will be criticized during the learning process.

Points to Emphasize

When you answer the question you want to make sure to focus on characteristics and experiences that helped you calmly accept the criticism.

  • Talk about how criticism helps you grow because it helps you get better at your job.
  • Talk about how it is a manager’s job to criticize, because your work reflects on them.
  • Mention how your characteristics like understanding, hard work and dedication helped you cope with the criticism.
  • Explain that criticism is just a chance to learn, and learning is important.

No matter how you decide to answer the question, make sure to do it in a positive way.

Mistakes You Should Avoid

There are certain characteristics you do not want to mention or show when answering this question.

  • Do not get defensive about being criticized.
  • Don’t tell them that the criticism was unwarranted.
  • Try not to get edgy. Everyone has been criticized. It is a part of learning.
  • Beware of speaking poorly of whoever criticized you.

Answering the question with any dishonesty or evasiveness is the absolute wrong way to go.

Sample Answer

Hiring managers are looking to see how you answer this type of charged question. A good answer might be something like:

I had been at the job for a few years. I felt like I knew what I was doing. One day one of my managers came to me and said that I had been entering in some information incorrectly. At first, I felt taken aback. I am a competent worker. Thankfully, I took a second to review my work. They were right. I had performed sloppily. I apologized to them for letting my work get so messy. After that, I never made that mistake again.

Explaining that you learned from the criticism is a great way to show that you don’t shy away from being told you do something incorrectly. It also shows hiring managers that you want to learn.

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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