Tell Me About a Time When Your Work Was Criticized | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

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Ep 634 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter tells you how to answer a tough interview Question, ” Tell me about a time your work was criticized.”

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Today, I want to talk with you about 1 of those tough interview questions, 1 of the ones that is designed to make you trip yourself up. The question is, "Tell me about a time when your work was criticized."
This is a subtle question because it is a variation on the question, "Tell me about your weaknesses," except it is a much more pointed questions. Thus, you can't get away with the, "I sometimes worked too hard," answered that I hate because it is so trivial. With few people itt may work. With most it is rebuffed. This 1 is much more pointed. "Tell me about a time when your work was criticized."

The way to approach this question is really very easy. You have to make your answer seem like you have been thinking about it. You can't just simply pop up with an answer because, then, they know it is rehearsed.

The way to answer this by saying, "Huh! Great question." Break your eye contact. Look off. Looks like you are thinking. That gives the impression that you are.

"Huh! Great question! Let me start by saying that for years, my reviews have been uniformly terrific. I have gotten top grades, promotions . . ." Talk about all your successes it how you have been evaluated. Then, you go back in time to appoint early in your career and then you say, "but there was that time about it, 8. 9 years ago." Notice. I broke eye contact?

"There was that time he 8 or 9 years ago when my boss came to me and he said…" You talk about some instance from way early in your career. You pause and say, "I really took that to heart because I understood that he was really trying to help me become a top achiever. It is really a great impetus for me because constructive criticism is great because someone can see things that I can't because they have a bigger picture of the situation. Early in my career, I can only see as far as my own desk. I focused on getting my homework done. I didn't understand how what I did related to other people."

Do you notice what I've done? I sent a whole bunch of stuff including that my reviews were great, there was a time earlier my career when, I also said that there are people who were trying to help me and want me to be successful, and that you took the criticism to heart because all they were trying to do was to help you.

It is a great approach because it is kind of like the "Feel, Felt, Found" close from sales training. The way that one works is, "I know how you feel. I have felt that way myself before. Do you know what I found? I found that…"

In this particular case, what were doing is acknowledging and complimenting yourself by talking about all the positive things you have done and how people see you. But there was that time, way early in your career, when . . . So you're acknowledging that there was a time much earlier in your career when you were criticized. You're acknowledging that in your relationship with your manager, you are not defensive about this. You understood that they were trying to help you. You took it to heart, took action on it and that is 1 of the reasons why you reviews have been so good.

Like I said, it is an easy question. If you are a little theatrical. Remember, you have to act your way through this 1 so that people think you are thinking your way through this 1 and not giving them a kid answer.


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, all as well as executive job search coaching and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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