Describe a Time You Were Criticized by (a Board member, CEO, company President)

One of the hardest things for a senior leader to experience is criticism from a board member, the CEO, the company president, other executive leaders. That’s what makes this question so powerful.

Describe a Time You Were Criticized by (a Board member, CEO, company President) |

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I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, a career and leadership coach. And I help people and organizations be more effective. And that can be with a job search, hiring better, managing and leading, workplace-related issues.

And this is one of those interview questions that might be asked of someone in the C suite and it comes down to how do you respond or, you know, what happens for you, when you're criticized by the President, a board member, the CEO, someone in the organization at an even more senior level.

So let's acknowledge that it's a disappointment for you. And you want to hear them out, because they have a responsibility to the organization. Maybe they've misheard something, informed incorrectly. So you start off really by saying, "I want to make everyone happy. And obviously, at times, I have to make difficult decisions. So if I'm going to be criticized by a member of the board, or the president or the CEO, I want to hear their input, because I've obviously miscalculated something, by keeping them in a way . . . of not keeping them up to speed with what my thinking was.

"So I've got to start off by, number one, listening and listening hard. Listen to what they're saying, and not saying, and asking probing questions in order to understand what it is that they believe I did incorrectly or a decision that I made that they would disagree with.

And from there, you know, I can talk with them about my reasoning, because they may be misinformed of certain things, or they may be correctly informed. And I just made it the wrong decision. And I have to just simply say, "Thank you. I missed that."

I remember a time where I was running a retreat for an organization, I made a difficult choice, as the retreat leader about the attendance of one person on staff, who simply said, he was not a welcomed individual for that particular group. And at the same time, the overall institution's ethics indicated he should be welcome. But I missed something. And that was they were renting property from a group and that they should be consulted as well. And when someone brought that to my attention, I paused for a second and said, "thank you. I missed that. And I know there are people who won't expect me to provide an honest answer. Could you select someone from the local group to get in touch with the owners of the property to make sure that they're on board with us?"

Acknowledging a mistake is often a very good thing. But it starts off with listening and listening to what the criticism is so that from there, you can ask questions or deduce whether or not what they've been told is correct, because sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. But the process is the more important thing. It starts with listening.

Hope you found this helpful. I'm Jeff Altman, my website is; go to the site and go exploring; there's a lot there to help you. And if you need coaching on your job search, and that could be with a resume review, interview coaching, where clearly I'm very good, at salary negotiation, any sense of the lifecycle of a search, including the onboarding process, schedule time for a free discovery call, scheduled time for coaching. I'd love to help.

Lastly, connect with me on LinkedIn at I'm not sure I said this, but a lot of the information is about coaching is at my website, and there. you can also find that about my courses which will help as well.

Hope you have a perfect day and most importantly, be great. Take care!


Jeff 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 more than 2100 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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