Behavioural Interview Question – Tell me about a time when you received criticism


In this post, we will answer the behaviour interview question: “Tell me about a time when you received criticism or somebody criticised your work.


In this post, you’ll learn:


  • Why this question is asked/What the psychology behind it is


  • How to answer this question step by step


  • And how to wrap it up gracefully

So, stay tuned.


This question illustrates your ability to learn.


While being open to feedback is not easy for most people, they want to see that you can take it in stride, analyse it and make changes based on the criticism if it makes sense to do so. Good candidates don’t take it personally. A good answer will show emotional maturity, adaptability and open-mindedness.


So, what I say… I actually just come right out and say I don’t take it personally. I strongly believe that that’s something that’s really helped me out a lot in interviews is to just be honest and say, “I don’t take the criticism personally.” They want to see that you not only take it in stride but that you don’t get defensive or blame other people, but rather, you take it in, and you analyse it, and you use it to improve.


How do you answer this specifically, step by step?


So, we’ll use the S.A.R.I. formula: Situation, Action, Result and Interesting features. And that tells a story. So, let’s get into it.



Step 1: Situation


Here’s where you set the stage. For example, you worked on project X, and you received criticism that said you should do something different. So, you describe the criticism that you received, and that’s setting the stage. Say you were planning an event, and they told you that something at the event didn’t go very well.


Step 2: Action


Talk about the action that you took. So, for example, the first thing you should always do is thank them for the feedback. It’s always the first thing that you can never go wrong with. No matter how horrible the feedback might be delivered or how hurt you might feel by the feedback, just say, “Thank you for your feedback.” It goes a long way, and it diffuses any situation that could have potentially escalated. I’ve done it so many times. It works really well! So, remember, thank them for their feedback first. No matter what.


Then, the action that you took… For example, you understood what they were saying. Maybe you agreed with it. If you did agree with it, instead of getting defensive and making excuses, you could say, “Thank you for your feedback. I will take that into consideration, and I will apply it next time. I appreciate you taking the time to give me that feedback.” Sometimes it’s not easy to do, but it’s necessary, and it’s the mature way to go.


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Step 3: Results


“The results that came from my action were…” So, when you’re telling the story, improvement moving forward is better due to the feedback being taken into account. So, feedback is so important. You can’t grow; you can’t learn if someone doesn’t give you feedback.


Step 4: Interesting Features


Oftentimes, interesting features can come in the form of what you learned, but they can come in other forms, too. So, they can be anything from you learned how to communicate better with a certain person, or you understood that person’s needs a little bit better, or you learned how to take feedback better.


So, for example, what you learned here meant that you could move forward faster and more efficiently, and you think that disagreements are what make stronger teams. If everyone thought in the same way, we would have no disagreements, but we also would have no growth, right? Learning is always great. If you can highlight a learning lesson from any story, that’s where the real meat is, in my opinion.


And there you have it—how to answer the question: “Tell me about a time when you received criticism.”


There are a lot more concrete examples to help with this answer and all the others in the free guide if you’re interested in going a little deeper on this topic. Thank you so much for reading, and if you did want more help with these types of questions, I’ve got you covered. All you have to do is click the link below to get the free instant access to downloading the free guide to situational interviewing.


What you’ll learn in the guide… First of all, you’ll learn the breakdown of the S.A.R.I. formula, why it works, and the psychology behind it. You’ll learn step-by-step examples for all the questions that are the most common in these situational behavioural interviewing, and you’ll receive fill-in-the-blank templates for each of these questions, so all you have to do is fill in the blanks with your own stories, practice and you’re ready to go. And just in case you’re still stuck, there are 25 questions that you can ask yourself to prepare your own stories a lot faster and more effectively. The questions get you thinking, and these 25 questions will definitely have you covered with coming up with your own stories.


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And that’s all I’ve got for you today. You’ll also get it in this beautifully designed workbook that you can… that is specifically designed to help you prepare for your own interviews, and it’s been super helpful for so many people, and I would really love for you to share in that with us. So, by the end of working through the guide, you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that comes your way. Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you on the other side. Have a great one!


In Work & Life
-Natalie Fisher


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