I ran a workshop recently about hiring for an agile team, and one of the people learning to interview said, “I want a candidate who can take criticism.” I replied, “Don't you mean feedback?” He asked, “What's the difference?”
Oh, boy. Plenty. Criticism is when you you're looking at a piece of code and you say, “This seems brain dead.” But if you say, “I'm confused by this piece of code,” you've provided me some feedback. I guarantee you, you want candidates who can take feedback.
So, if you want to know if a candidate can take feedback, here are some possible interview questions:
- “Have you recently been in a position where someone reviewed your work?” (wait for a yes answer.) “What happened?”
- Offer to work with the candidate in an audition (possibly pairing) and review as you go.
- Ask for feedback on some of you work as part of an audition and see how the candidate provides feedback.
- “How do you know your work is good?” Wait and see where the question goes. You might be able to follow up with a question such as, “Is there a way you prefer feedback on your work?”
Asking candidates about their ability to take feedback is useful. Asking about criticism is not.