Tell Me About a Time You Received Feedback You Disagreed With

This is becoming an increasingly popular interview question and it tests your ability to both receive feedback and constructively talk with a colleague or manager.  The recruiter will expect you to have a real life example, so you’ll need to think carefully about a suitable example that strikes the right balance.

Cabin crew are expected to be excellent team workers.  They work with a different team on nearly every flight and have to think on their feet to come up with solutions.  Often, it means simply following standard operating procedures but occasionally they need to use their common sense and judgement.

But airline’s recruit people with different personalities and they’ll be differing opinions of how you can do something.  Just because you think a solution or way of doing something is the best way, it doesn’t mean that your colleagues or manager will agree with you.

The airline recruiter wants to make sure that their cabin crew won’t end up having heated arguments when these issues arise.  It would be an awful situation if you suddenly stopped talking to one of your colleagues halfway through a flight.  Passengers would quickly pick up on the awkward atmosphere and it would ruin the customer experience.

Even worse, if you refuse to listen to feedback on a small issue, what could the outcome be if this was a safety or security related matter?  Cabin crew have to follow instructions in line with their training, so the recruiter is looking for candidates that are open to receiving feedback.

Most of the time, feedback is constructive and positive – It should focus on the good things you’ve done and then highlight areas for improvement.  Specific examples should be given and an action plan agreed to build development.  But what happens if you don’t agree with the feedback?

First things first, it’s good to start answering this question by explaining your commitment to personal self-development.  Let the recruiter know that you welcome feedback and see this as an important way of improving yourself.  You could tell your interviewer that you actively invite feedback from both colleagues and managers as park of your development.

You might also want to remind the recruiter that team working within the role of cabin crew is very important  – so you’d never argue with a colleague or undermine a manager.  You won’t always agree with the feedback you receive but the way you handle it should always be professional and respectful.

However, the recruiter will be expecting a specific example of a time you’ve received feedback you didn’t agree with.  This is a competency based question and again you’ll be using the SOAR method to answer it quickly and accurately:

Introduce the situation, explain your objective, describe what actions you took, say what the end result was.

The example you give will obviously be very personal to your personal work experiences.  However, make sure you highlight some of the following areas:

  • Listening skills: You took the time to listen to the feedback at an appropriate time.  You found a suitable location and mutually agreed a time that didn’t impact on your work.
  • Communication: You asked probing questions to understand more about the feedback.  You weren’t defensive or unwilling to listen.
  • Friendly: The feedback was welcomed, even if you didn’t personally agree with it.  People have different opinions and just because you don’t agree with the feedback, it doesn’t mean that person’s opinion was wrong.
  • Compromise: You explained your reasoning to help the person giving the feedback understand why you did what you did.
  • Constructive: The feedback was used as part of your self-development.  You jointly agreed the end result.
  • Customer service: The feedback and subsequent discussion never affected the customer experience.

This question is very much about being open to ideas and ways of doing things, even if you don’t initially agree with them.  If the end result is that you learnt a new method of doing something then this will be a really positive way to end your answer.

That’s not to say you can’t use an example where you were definitely in the right but if you use that type of scenario, make sure you concentrate on how professional you were in dealing with the feedback.

Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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