I don’t know anyone that takes criticism well, on the spot anyway. They might hide it, but come on – who doesn’t get a little down over someone criticizing you?
I for one like receiving constructive criticism, just not at the time. I listen, but it can be really hard to hear it. I take it all in, I try my best not to react. I go away and think about it. Most of the time I end up agreeing with whomever had sat me down to talk.
If anyone tells me they have NO problem handling constructive criticism, it’s not that I don’t believe you – because I do. It’s just rare! So it makes me question whether it’s true or not. I feel, no matter what your BEST bet for this one is to be totally honest.
Does it upset you? Ok. But don’t just say that. Make sure you show them you can handle it. Do you react? Ok, time to change. Time to not react on the spot. Time to listen and take it all in. If you agree, great – see how you can learn and better yourself. If you don’t agree, why not sit down and talk it through some more? Maybe there is something you aren’t seeing, or perhaps there’s something they aren’t seeing. Whatever it is, my biggest piece of advice? Walk away, don’t react immediately.
Your interviewer wants to gauge your maturity, honesty and obviously to find out how you actually handle criticism.
If you go head in and say you are fine and handle it with no issues, I wouldn’t quite believe you. Perhaps if you gave me examples of how you handled it I might, but I just find it hard to believe everyone is ok being criticised.
If you answer something that shows you can’t handle criticism, well then you are likely going to be taken off their short list for the job. No one wants to work with someone who goes off the rails when given some constructive criticism.
It’s all about balance! You want to show you understand and can listen, but that you feel what they are saying too.
E.g. I don’t think anyone likes being criticised, and although it can be difficult to hear I do listen when I am on the receiving end. I listen and try to take it all in, maybe clarify some points to ensure I really understand what’s being said. Then I go away and think about it. Sure, it might get to me at the time but that’s why I let it sink in before I react or do anything about it. I welcome constructive criticism, even though it is difficult to hear at times.
It shouldn’t matter who is giving you the criticism, whether it be a colleague, client or your boss. It does matter how they give it though. Feedback, good or bad, means you can identify where you can improve. That is a good thing. We might not always want to hear it but sometimes we need to. Don’t get defensive, angry or be rude about it. Try to be objective and learn from it.
Show you can take it, show you can handle it. Show them you are the right person for the job!