How Do You Handle Criticism?

Job Interview Question and Answer: How Do You Handle Criticism?

Why Hiring Managers Ask How You Handle Criticism

When interviewing for a job, a hiring manager may ask you how you have handled criticism in the past. Employers ask this question because they want to see how you deal with stressful situations and if you can accept and apply feedback to your work with the right attitude. This question can also help to see if you can handle different management styles.

How To Answer a Hiring Manager

Employers look for candidates who are open and honest. Everyone makes mistakes, and managers want to see that you can admit and learn from yours. You want to show your potential employer that you’re someone who can adapt to constructive criticism, and the best way to do that is to have an example ready to go if asked.

What Not To Say To an Interviewer

While you might believe admitting to a mistake or telling your possible employer that you received criticism over a project can make you look bad, it can have the opposite effect. An open and honest answer is the best one. To make a good impression when answering the hiring manager, avoid these mistakes:

  • Saying You’re Perfect – Employers know that everyone makes mistakes, so telling your potential future employer that you’ve never been criticized for your work, or that it’s perfect, shows managers that you either can’t handle constructive criticism or that you’re being dishonest.
  • Making Something Up – In keeping with the theme of honesty, making up a story can also present issues. More often than not, hiring managers can tell when you’re being dishonest, which can lead to you not getting the position.
  • Blaming Others – Deflecting blame for a certain project or saying that it was the fault of your previous manager also makes you look bad. Own up to your mistakes and show that you’re able to learn from these situations.

Keep in mind that hiring managers are looking to see how you not only handled criticism in the past, but they are using this to judge how you would handle criticism and situations for them.

Sample Answers To How Do You Handle Criticism

You can use the following answers as a guide when crafting your responses. Your answer will be based on your profession and role within the company, but these can be a good starting point. When answering, remember to be truthful and honest with your responses.

Sample Answer 1 – Retail Worker

When I became assistant manager at my current place of employment, the head manager told me I was being too critical of the employees. I wanted to make sure that everything was correct under my supervision, and in doing so, I was too harsh when dealing with some of the workers. I listened to what my boss and the employees had to say and changed the way I managed after that.

Sample Answer 2 – Movie Theater Attendant

My boss told me that I developed a bad habit of letting the candy run down too low in the case. She said that having the candy case properly stocked helped the company look more professional. After having that discussion, I made it a habit to check the candy at the bottom of every hour.

Sample Answer 3 – Coffee Shop Barista

After I had received several customer complaints that I was taking too long making coffee because I didn’t know the recipes and measurements for each drink, I went home and made notecards to memorize each one. Since doing so, my drink making times have improved by 25% and my manager commended me on my improvement.

Things To Keep In Mind

Just because this question comes up doesn’t mean the hiring manager is looking for a reason not to hire you. You can even spin what was once a negative into a positive trait that you can bring to the new position if hired. A few things you’ll want to remember are:

  • Be ready with a polished answer. Hesitating could make the manager think you’re coming up with something on the spot.
  • Remain calm and collected when telling your story, even if it upset you when it happened.
  • Explain what you learned from it and how it has helped you in other areas, if possible.

Having one or more examples shows potential employers that you can learn and adapt from criticism.

Video Tutorial

Video Transcript

This is a good response. You always want to say that you are great at managing your time and accomplishing tasks, and it helps to detail how you learned time management, like how our participant does when he mentions that he developed the skill in college. Additionally, you should talk about the tactics you use to be successful at time management. Notice how the following interviewees detail what they do to manage their time.

You can also tell the interviewer a story about a time when you were faced with time constraints and explain the steps you took to accomplish your goal on time. As long as you give a good view of your process for finishing work on time, you’ll have a great answer for this question.

Similar Questions Employers Will Ask


  • Claire Moore says:

    DON’T make stuff up, ever. Don’t lie, don’t stretch the truth, don’t blow things out of proportions. Good interviewers are trained and have methods to detect lying, and will probe if they suspect that your story is unfounded.

    But, as Yoo Mee stated, no one is perfect, so really search your personal history to find a relevant story. Both lying and saying that you’ve never been criticized (which is like saying you’re perfect) are both wrong responses in the case of this question. Even if the criticism or comment was small, if the lesson that you learned from it was worthwhile, that’s good! The focus should be on your reaction and what you learned/gained from it, not necessarily the incident of criticism itself.

    An example can be as simple as this: While working on a series of graphics for a feature on a blockbuster movie premiere in the school paper, my editors became much pickier than usual on my submissions. They repeatedly would suggest that I change or redo colors, rearrange items, and keep pushing the creative qualities in my pieces. I took their feedback to heart and really poured all of my energy and inspiration into the assignments, and in the end, we came out with an amazing feature in the paper that was highly praised by staff and readers alike.

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