Job Interview Question

Describe a time when your work was criticized and how you handled it.

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Have you ever been asked this question? I know…to you, it feels like oral surgery without the Novocain…but interviewers love behavioral interviews because they tell them so much about you—in the story you choose to tell, how you tell it, with what kind of attitude, and the results you’re capable of producing under pressure. They just can’t get as good a picture of what life would be like with you on the job from only asking about your skills and qualifications.

The criticism question is one of those adversity pieces that you’ve always got to have a story or two about in your back pocket for interviews.

The truth is, to be a good employee (or an overall successful person), you’ve always got to be open to criticism. If you’re not open to criticism, then you’re not coachable. If you’re not coachable, then you’re less valuable than you could be.

Are you coachable?

Coachability is huge. Taking criticism is important. If when you get criticism, you have a problem with always wanting to be defensive and not simply soaking up how you could have done it differently, then you’ll find that people will give you less and less criticism. That might sound like a good thing, but it isn’t. If they can’t communicate with you and help you be better (which helps them to be better), they’ll eventually just fire you. Does that seem extreme? It’s because your boss (or anyone you need to learn something from) can’t teach you anything new without correcting you once in a while. Since no one’s perfect, everyone needs to be corrected or coached to a new place or behavior in order to keep being successful.

So what they’re really looking for is, are you coachable? Tell me about a time when someone told you how you could do something different or better, how you did do it different or better, and then what the results were.

That’s the STAR technique that all job seekers should be familiar with for behavioral interviews.  STAR stands for Situation or Task, Action, and Result.  Stories put into that structure are particularly effective in job interview situations.   You talk about the situation you were in and the task in front of you, the action you choose to take and the results you got from it (what happened).  Choose an incident or experience from your work history, put it into that structure, and you’ve got yourself a story that illustrates why you’re such a great pick for the job.

Get more behavioral interview strategy here.


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