Tell me about a time when you had to give feedback to a colleague?
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe an instance where you had to offer constructive criticism to a team member?
- Tell me about a time you had to teach a co-worker a new skill
- What approach do you take when you disagree with a colleague’s approach on a project?
- Share an experience where you had to help a colleague improve their performance.
- Could you talk about a time when you had to intervene in a coworker’s work process for the betterment of the project?
- What strategies do you use when providing feedback to ensure it’s well-received and effective?
- Can you recall a situation where you had to mentor or coach a fellow employee on their job responsibilities?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The question, “Tell me about a time when you had to give feedback to a colleague,” serves to assess key interview aspects. It gauges your practical skills (Can you do the job?) by examining your communication and feedback abilities. It also reflects on your commitment (Will you do the job?) by showing your willingness to engage in difficult conversations for team improvement. Finally, it hints at your interpersonal style (Will you fit in?), revealing how you manage relationships and handle conflicts within a team setting.
How Best To Structure Your Answer To This Question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? In relation to giving feedback, this would involve your personal philosophy on communication and how you believe constructive criticism can foster growth and improvement.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. For the feedback question, succinctly describe the context in which you had to provide feedback, focusing on the relevance of the situation to your role and the necessity of your intervention.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter. Regarding giving feedback to a colleague, clarify your position in the scenario, emphasizing your responsibility to address the issue and guide your colleague.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. In answering the feedback question, elaborate on the specific actions you took to communicate your feedback, ensuring you highlight the rationale behind each step.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible. With the feedback scenario, conclude by sharing the outcome of your action, such as improved team performance or enhanced work quality, quantifying the results if possible.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not downplay the importance of feedback.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not describe the situation without focusing on your actions.
Do not ignore the impact of your feedback on the colleague.
Do not speak negatively about the colleague in question.
Do not fail to reflect on what you learned from the experience.
Tell me about a time when you had to give feedback to a colleague? – Example answers…
Example Answer 1
“I believe that feedback, when delivered constructively, is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. In my previous role as a team leader, there was a situation where one of my team members, Alex, was consistently missing project deadlines, which was affecting our team’s overall performance.
My task was to address this issue without demotivating Alex. I arranged a private meeting to discuss his performance, ensuring the setting was comfortable and free from interruptions. I started by acknowledging his strengths, particularly his creativity, which was a great asset to our team. Then, I gently brought up the missed deadlines, providing specific examples.
I actively listened to his side of the story and discovered that he was struggling with time management due to personal challenges. Together, we developed a plan that included time management training and a more flexible work schedule that accommodated his needs. I also scheduled regular check-ins to offer support and track progress.
The result was remarkable. Within a couple of months, not only did Alex start meeting his deadlines, but there was also a noticeable improvement in his overall work quality. This experience reinforced my belief in the importance of empathetic and constructive feedback. It not only resolved the immediate issue but also helped Alex to develop skills that boosted his confidence and performance.”
Example Answer 2
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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