6 Coachability Interview Questions and Sample Responses

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Regardless of the industry you work in, you're likely to receive constructive criticism throughout your career. Hiring managers often want to find out how candidates respond to feedback and learn from their mistakes, and they may ask questions about this during an interview. If you're currently looking for a new role, preparing for questions about coachability can help you practise your responses and improve your chances of success. In this article, we describe coachability interview questions, provide 6 typical questions with sample answers and list some tips to consider ahead of your next interview.

What are coachability interview questions?

Coachability interview questions relate to a candidate's willingness to take feedback and incorporate it into their actions or behaviour. These questions can determine your ability to learn or accept guidance. Some coachability traits may include demonstrating self-awareness of your weaknesses or strengths, showing motivation to improve, being open to personal growth and experimenting with new approaches to tasks.

6 coachability questions with sample answers

Hiring managers and recruiters often ask coachability questions during interviews. Practising your answers before the interview can help you respond appropriately. The following are six sample questions and answers:

1. Tell me about a time you learned something new from a colleague or manager. What did you learn, how did they teach it and why was that experience important to you?

In many roles, the ability to learn new skills can help ensure that you remain up to date with the latest industry knowledge and practices. A hiring manager may ask this question to determine how you learn and how well you retain new information. This question also lets them know how open you are to gaining new skills and facing new experiences, which could be a key consideration when hiring you. In your response, focus on a specific experience where you learned a new skill.

Example: 'When I started my first role as a junior data analyst, I was familiar with different software, but I needed to learn about business operations. My teammates taught me how to follow business protocols when working with sensitive data to ensure that I was keeping the data secure. That experience was meaningful because the new skills allowed me to perform better at my role and understand the importance of working with data from a compliance perspective, including why following protocols matters.'

2. Think about the last time you needed help at work. What did you need assistance with and what led you to seek help?

With this question, an employer is usually looking to assess whether you ask for help when it's necessary. While some jobs require independence, knowing when to ask for help can also be critical to ensuring that you meet deadlines. Asking for help can also allow you to get a different perspective, which can help identify problem-solving opportunities. To answer, think of a time you asked for help and include specific details.

Example: 'Recently, I needed help when working on a major project with tight deadlines. My colleague had several outstanding tasks and had to take an unplanned leave. As a result, my workload significantly increased, but I didn't have any additional time or resources. I had to reach out to the project director to explain my situation and ask for support to meet our deadlines. My project director was very supportive and took some colleagues off less critical projects to get our project delivered on time.'

3. Describe a time you made an error at work and had to tell a colleague or manager about it. Did you learn anything from this mistake, and how did you resolve the issue?

Regardless of the industry or role, mistakes can happen at work. A hiring manager asks this question not to criticise the mistake but to understand how you reacted to it and the steps you took to resolve it. They may also want to assess your accountability and integrity in a work environment and your ability to learn from mistakes. Keep your answer honest and positive to show how you can learn and grow.

Example: 'While working as a junior event specialist, I sent out many invitations to clients for an event with the incorrect date. As soon as I realised, I alerted my manager and sent follow-up invitations and apologies for the inconvenience. I also alerted our RSVP team, who provided me with responses from clients who responded before receiving the correct details so that I could contact them personally. I felt awful about this mistake, and it taught me to double-check my work and ask a colleague to verify key details before sending it to clients.'

4. Tell me about a time you received feedback to improve your work. How did you respond to the advice?

In many organisations, managers give formal feedback after the delivery of a major project or during annual performance reviews. Feedback can relate to the quality of your work and whether you reached your goals. If a hiring manager asks this question in an interview, it's usually because they want to assess how you respond to feedback and whether you can adapt and grow in your role.

Example: 'After three months in my first customer-facing role, I received mixed feedback from customers as part of our standard customer survey process. There were some concerns about the depth of information I provided. I took this feedback on board and focused on how I could achieve my targets in terms of time spent on the phone while adequately answering my clients' queries. I sought guidance from my teammates and my next round of feedback was much better.'

5. Have you ever disagreed with feedback, and how did you handle it?

There may be times you don't always agree with the feedback you receive from your manager or colleagues. Hiring managers may ask this question to determine how you respond to feedback and what steps you might take to address it. This can help them identify how you maintain professionalism when you don't agree with someone or something in a work setting.

Example: 'Once, I received feedback from a colleague that they didn't believe my new procurement process was working for the organisation. While I appreciated the concerns and took on board some of their suggestions for adapting the process, I also sought feedback from other users. I also measured how effective the new process was for saving time and costs. Finally, I sat down and assessed the feedback with my colleague to discuss what was working and determine areas for improvement.'

6. Have you ever received tough criticism, and how did you react to it?

Receiving criticism can be challenging. Criticism can be an essential part of professional development, so responding professionally and acting on the feedback can benefit your career. Hiring managers may ask this question to find out if you can receive and respond to criticism appropriately. When answering, try focusing on how you responded to the criticism rather than what led to it.

Example: 'The toughest criticism I've received was when I wrote my first business strategy. I had little practical experience producing strategy documents. When I received feedback from my manager, she asked me to rework the entire document. It was tough to start again, but after listening to her feedback, I realised what I needed to work on to create an improved version. I learnt a lot about ensuring I understand the requirements and regularly checking in with senior managers throughout the process rather than at the end, which can result in wholesale changes.'

Related: 9 Character Traits That Attract Employers

Additional interview tips to show your coachability

If you get an invitation to an interview, consider the following tips to help you prepare:

Practise active listening

Active listening helps you fully understand interview questions so you can answer them effectively. Paraphrasing the question when answering is also an excellent way to show you've clearly understood the question and helps keep your response on the topic. Some coachability questions ask you to answer address more than one area, so it's vital that you listen carefully.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

Prepare relevant examples

Strong coachability answers utilise real-life examples from your work experience. Preparing examples, practising them out loud and memorising the key details can be helpful when providing an example during the interview. Try to ensure the examples demonstrate how you took action or solved a problem or challenge.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Be honest

When answering these questions, it's essential to be honest. Being open with your responses can help the hiring manager understand your character, skills and expertise. Being truthful about your capabilities can also ensure that you can fulfil the role requirements if you're successful.

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