Interview questions and nerves

Today I spoke with a recent client. He had had a telephone interview, and was now scheduled for an in-person interview. The one quesiton that gave him pause was a behavioural one, "How do you handle constructive criticism?"

For some reason (and we all have different questions that might trigger a nervous reaction) he found it difficult to answer. First of all,  the question likely has more to do with a situation at the company, perhaps with a staff member in the very division to which you've applied, and less likely anything to do with you. Truly unlikely that they have already noted that you got your back up about a critical remark (and if you did, there's an issue for you to dispense with before it stumps your career growth completely). It's probable that one of their staff won't accept suggestions with grace and good humour.

And secondly, an honest response is the best. That's why canned answers sourced from a "100 Answers to Typical Interview Questions" type of book won't work as well as an honest and authentic response.

If you actually ask for feedback on a regular basis, say so. If you embrace the chance to serve clients better, or deliver services more effectively and thus like to hear honest appraisals, say so. And if you don't mind it, and listen politely to evaluate in private, say so. It's not the answer in particular that's going to make Candidate A better than Candidate B, it's simply about answering the question with honesty. (Of course if you get your back up you are advised to get help in conquering this reaction.)

And don't go on and on, justifying, explaning, twisting and turning and piquing the interview team's collective "liar meter" antenna! A short and sweet honest answer is all that's needed. It's just a simple question.