When interviewers ask you questions about feedback you have received, what they really want to know is how you used that feedback to improve. In this episode, I will show you five simple steps to formulate a convincing answer to these kinds of questions that will set you apart from other candidates.
Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. When interviewers ask you questions about feedback you have received, what they really want to know is how you used that feedback to improve. I will now show you five simple steps to formulating a convincing answer to these kinds of questions that will set you apart from other candidates.
Step 1: Choose your example.
Try to remember some constructive feedback you received that you used to pro-actively work on yourself; ideally, pick an example where the self-development part lasted over a longer time period and led to concrete improvements. If you find it challenging to come up with a good example, it may help you to first think of different steps you took to develop new or improve existing skills; for example, by reading relevant books, blogs and articles, listening to podcasts or taking courses. Or maybe you had a mentor or coach who helped you grow in your career. Then, try to remember if any of these steps were initially triggered by constructive feedback you received.
Step 2: Describe the situation.
Cover when and where the situation occurred, who provided the feedback and what it was about. For example, you may have worked as a junior software developer, and while the lead developer said that she was happy with the quality of your work, she felt that you weren’t always delivering your tasks on time.
Step 3: Describe your actions.
Cover how you reacted when you received the feedback and the steps you took to improve. In our previous example, you may have thanked the lead developer for her feedback and asked her about specific situations where she felt you lagged behind. Then, you may have analyzed these situations, realizing that you had spent a lot of time helping your colleagues and finishing other things instead of working on the specific tasks she mentioned. You understood that you needed to improve your time management and prioritization skills and your ability to estimate how long things took before saying yes to new tasks. To do so, you may have done an online course on time management, booked short, weekly one-on-ones with the lead developer to make sure you prioritized the right things and asked your mentor to coach you on how to estimate how long different tasks took.
Step 4: Describe the results.
Cover whether or not you used the feedback to improve. Did you follow up with the person who gave you the initial feedback after your self-development? If possible, also mention some later situations where you utilized your improved skills. For instance, in our previous example, you may have realized that your efforts to improve your time management and prioritization skills had led to you being much more in control of your workload instead of being reactive and feeling stressed about your to-do list. And the lead developer may have given you positive feedback after just two weeks, acknowledging that you had become much better at delivering the right things on time. And in a later project, your improved skills may have helped you successfully estimate, plan and prioritize the work for one of the project’s sub-streams.
Step 5: Formulate your answer.
Combine the results from the previous steps into a compelling answer. For example,” I had just started my new job as a junior software developer at company X when the lead developer gave me feedback that I wasn’t finishing all my tasks on time. I had been working hard and felt frustrated at first, but I realized that she might have a point, so I asked her for some specific examples. After the meeting, I analyzed these situations and understood that I had been prioritizing the wrong things, not always correctly estimating the effort needed to complete specific activities, and had too quickly taken on new tasks before finishing previous ones. I did four things to improve. First, I attended an online course on time management and work prioritization. Then, I asked my mentor, a seasoned software developer, to help me become better at estimating how long different activities take. When I was asked to take on new tasks, I first evaluated how much effort it would take and if I could deliver these without falling behind with my other commitments. Finally, I set up a short weekly meeting with the lead developer to ensure I prioritized the right things. The result was that I became much better at planning my work, leading to positive feedback from her and other colleagues. I also felt much less stressed and more in control of my workload; in fact, I used my improved skills a couple of months later when I successfully planned and prioritized the work items of one of the sub-streams of a new project.”
These were the five steps to answering the interview question, “Tell me about a time you received constructive feedback.” Thank you for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.