How To Answer Interview Questions About How You Handle CriticismJenna Arcandon January 10, 2024 at 3:30 pm Work It Daily


Criticism comes with the territory in any job—and in life. So in your job interview, the hiring manager will probably ask how you handle it.

It may come in the form of a behavioral interview question such as, “Describe a time when your work was criticized and how you handled it.” Your answer—the story you choose and how you talk about it—will tell them a lot about your character and how you perform under pressure.

The truth is that in order to be successful, we all need to be open to criticism. If you aren’t, then you aren’t coachable. You won’t be open to learning things that make you better than you were before. And if you can’t do that, then you won’t grow and you’ll never become as accomplished or as valuable as you could be in your career.

Ask Yourself, “Am I Coachable?”

The question we all need to ask ourselves is, “Am I coachable?” Our ability to take criticism and learn from it is crucial to our success. If you don’t take criticism well and always become defensive, eventually people will stop trying. That may feel nicer, but ultimately it hurts you. If your boss can’t communicate with you and help you become better at your job, eventually they’ll just cut you loose.

No one is perfect. We can all learn and improve. Everyone can be corrected or coached to a new place. We’ll be better and stronger because of it.

How To Answer Interview Questions About How You Handle Criticism

What does a good criticism response story sound like?

If you’re asked about how you handle criticism in a job interview, your response should sound like this:

Tell them about a time someone told you how you could do some task differently or better.Talk about how you responded and what you did after receiving the criticism (how you did that task better).Mention what the results were.

This structure fits the STAR technique (situation or task, action you took, and results). Many times, job seekers miss telling about the results of the story (what happened as a result of the action you took), and this is one of the most important parts.

At Work It Daily, our version of the STAR technique is called the “Experience + Learn = Grow” model, and it actually works better in job interviews because the STAR technique is overused and it’s easy to forget the “results,” how you “grew” from the experience.

As with all of your job interview answers, be strategic. Don’t choose a problem that someone criticized you about that is a central component of your job—for instance, an accountant who was criticized for her sloppy math would be a bad story to tell, no matter how much she improved. Choose something that is a side component. Maybe the accountant was weak in communication skills with colleagues but took a class and made an effort and now works collaboratively on six team projects per year. Whatever it is, talk about how you responded and how you became better, and give evidence of that.

Hiring managers will always ask about adversity of one kind or another in interviews, so be prepared to talk about a few of these types of topics. Remember: It’s all about how you frame your criticism story!

Give interview answers that sell you for the job. Find more than 200 job-winning answers in How to Answer Interview Questions and How to Answer Interview Questions II, available on Amazon.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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