Job Interview Question - Giving Feedback

If you are looking to get a job as a manager, you may not escape a job interview question in the like of: "How do you give negative feedback to subordinates?" OR "As a manager, how do you handle bad performance by your team members"

In the book of Genesis, we can learn how God handles a similar case.


Gen 4:3-7 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the lord.
4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?

7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

As we see, the company Universe INC. was starting to grow and 2 new employees were hired: Cain first, then Abel second. They were in different departments and came the time to give an account for their results.

The verses above tell us that Abel was commended for his great results while Cain got a bad performance rating.

Cain, the underachiever got very dissastified and sad about his bad rating. Furthermore, he got jealous of Abel, the great employee.

But if we analyze carefully the verse, we can see important principles on how God, the CEO handled this performance appraisal exercise.

If He were to answer a job interview question about giving negative feedback, He would mention the following 3 golden rules:

- First of all, we see that the feedback has to be timely. When you perceive bad performance or behavior, do your best to provide feedback while the situation is fresh. That will give the employee the opportunity to make adjustments and improve if he is wise, before the final periodic appraisal. It is wrong, as a manager to wait until the periodic year-end appraisal exercise.

- Second, you need to make sure to separate the person from the performance or behavior. It was clearly stated in the verse that the disapproval was on the performance (offering) and not targeted at the employee itself (Cain).

- Third, even if you comply by the second rule, you still need to be attentive and check how well the feedback was received. That is how the CEO noticed that the employee got very angry and sad. He took it personally. In most cases, people don't like to receive negative feedback because of low self-esteem and perceive it as an attack on their person. When you notice that the feedback was not well received, you have to provide encouragement and reassurance to the person.

The CEO basically told the "bad" employee Cain:
"Look, it's not personal. If you perform well, you will also get a good rating. So, use this as an opportunity to strive".

You can also warn the employee that he is on the way to destroy his career if he persists on the negative attitude.

In conclusion, your answer to the job interview question about giving negative feedback needs to demonstrate the 3 underlying issues mentioned above:

BE TIMELY IN YOUR FEEDBACK

SEPARATE THE PERSON FROM THE BEHAVIOR

MONITOR AND MANAGE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

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