Can You Tell Me About a Time You Had To Give Difficult Feedback?

How to answer “Can you tell me about a time you had to give difficult feedback?” in a job interview. It’s not a common ‘conflict resolution‘ question, but if you are applying for a managerial position, you surely can expect this interview question. Down below you can find the perfect example answer and interview tips.

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The reason why interviewers ask this questionΒ is to check up on someone’s interpersonal skills. The ideal candidate is able to motivate colleagues during difficult times, communicate effectively, address issues and deliver constructive criticism. Show that you are able to lead and collaborate closely with others.

Example Answer (Experienced)

“As a [Floor Manager] at [Store XYZ], I noticed that one of our employees started frequently coming late to work. Instead of broaching the topic in front of other coworkers, I asked to speak to him privately.

I addressed my concerns about his lateness because it didn’t line up with his usual punctuality. I also explained that his behavior violates the company policies and decreases the team’s work ethic.

He acknowledged the issue and explained that his work/life balance was disturbed due to family illness. For the time being, I adjusted his schedule and he promised to notify me in advance.”Β 

Example Answer (No Experience)

β€œI remember when I made a conscious decision to give difficult feedback to a team member in college. It was because of underperformance issues I noticed in our marketing plan.Β 

It surely felt daunting at first, but I learned that difficult feedback, when properly done, can be a powerful means of personal development and positive change.Β 

So, I scheduled a one-on-one meeting, addressed what worked and what had to be modified, I documented the conversation and scheduled another meeting to follow up on the progress.Β 

To keep the feedback constructive and effective, I made sure to be timely, specific, objective and I used constructive sentences like: β€œI have some suggestions to improve [Chapters].”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t say that you feel uncomfortable when giving difficult feedback. Supervisors or managers don’t flinch from emphasizing the importance of company policies and team morale.
  • Do provide an example that shows your constructive and positive side. For example, you can start with something positive about the individual before you address your concern(s). Key here is to be specific (not vague) and avoid excessive detailing.Β Β