Describe a Time When Your Boss or Board Member Criticized You |

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

This is one of those tough interview questions you might be asked if you’re interviewed for a C-Suite position or other senior role within an organization.

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If you’re asked the question, tell me about a time your boss or a board member criticized you, that’s a variation on the question you were asked on a staff level, tell me about a time your work was criticized. Unlike the situation where you were the staff level where I encourage people to talk about back in the day, when you were a beginner, and all that sort of stuff, you can’t get away with this. You have to focus on something more recent.

And the first thing is, to change the language of the question. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been criticized. I think the decision I’ve made has been criticized. And what I’ve done is sit with that individual, and ask them what their opinions were of my choices, what they understood the conditions were that went into the decision, and then bring them up to speed with how I saw it in the fray.’

Often, when we go back in time, they’re gonna think of that as a deflection. You’re not answering the question. But you want to understand where their judgment came from, where their opinion came from, because ultimately, it’s about how they see the outcome and whether they perceive any misses on your part.

Now, the fun thing is, at a certain point, to say, ‘Yeah, I missed that point.’ I know, in my life, I ran a retreat workshop. And there was a decision I made that the presenter, the hosts of this disagreed with initially, but we hashed it out, we talked about it and eventually they agreed with the choice I made.

It’s much the same thing here. You want to understand how they came to the conclusion that you made the wrong choice so that in this way, you can talk them through what your inputs were, what you were being told, and yes, ‘the outcome isn’t what we hoped it would be and given what we knew at the time, and what our concerns were, we had a series of bad choices, and bad potential outcomes. I think we chose the least bad one given everything. I spoke with the board about everything (because this is probably a new board member who’s being judgmental, but if it’s a longtime board member, and it’s given the advice I received from the board, given all the inputs I received from other individuals, this was the least bad choice that we had.

And you kind of walk them through the decisioning and what you did to minimize risk so that this way they understand.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2400 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? People hire me to provide No BS career advice whether that is about a job search, hiring better, leadership, management or support with a workplace issue. Schedule a discovery call at my website, 

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