Job Interview Question

What do people most often criticize about you?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Watch out for this job interview question.  This is another way to ask, “What’s your greatest weakness?”  It is also a fishing expedition to see how well you take criticism.  We all have to be open to criticism in order to grow and improve as professionals and as people.  Being ‘coachable’ is a big plus in your favor in the eyes of your future manager or supervisor.

I don’t think you can get away with saying, “People don’t criticize me, and I can’t think of anything.”  You can’t go through life without stepping on toes once in a while, and we all have room for improvement.

You could try to deflect it with humor:  “Well, my wife can’t stand that I don’t put the cap back on the toothpaste.”  But a serious interviewer is going to press you for a real answer.

When you answer “What do people criticize about you?”  (whether you try the humor angle or not), your big-picture strategy should be to tell them a criticism or weakness that doesn’t affect your job performance and in fact, may even help it.  Then show them that you can deal with criticism in general in a calm, professional manner.

For example, I hCriticizeave been (and am still, on a regular basis) criticized for being impatient.  That’s sometimes a problem in my personal life and in my relationships, but that’s always been a big plus for my professional drive and success.  I know I’m impatient, and I do work to rein that in when dealing with relationships, but I use it in my professional life to propel me further and faster than I would get without it.

Maybe you take things too seriously.  You can say, “I’ve been told I take things too seriously.  It’s true that I tend to be a serious person.  I do have a sense of humor, but I tend to be focus on getting the job done first and having fun later.”

If you have a story about how you addressed a criticism and improved, that’s even better:  “I used to be infamous for being overly critical, which stemmed from my focus on delivering outstanding results.  I want all the details to be fantastic.  I still am focused on consistently delivering those results, but I have learned to be more tactful and to offer compliments and encouragement with my criticism so that others perceive it as coaching rather than criticizing and it’s worked out very well.”


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