Getting feedback has got a bit of a bad reputation. Phrases such as ‘can I have a word?’ can strike us with a sense of dread, and often justifiably. We can end up trying to avoid feedback of any kind, because no one likes to feel criticised or told they are in the wrong.
But, what if this is doing you a disservice? What if feedback could actually make or break your career?
One firefighter told us:
I had some good feedback from West mids following an interview. They sent me my scores for each section of the interview and showed me how well I responded to each PQA and I was able to narrow it down to a particular PQA that had let me down. I obviously then knew where my strengths were and what I needed to work on. This definitely contributed to the success of my next interview.
Another had a similar story:
‘I had applied wholetime on a couple of occasions and been unsuccessful at written application stage. Went for local retained station next, was more successful and got through to interview which I thought I’d handled okay. On the way out the station manager who had interviewed me pulled me aside for two minutes to explain that if it had been a wholetime interview they wouldn’t have asked me so many follow up questions to get the marks I needed to pass the PQAs. On reflection I realised that on most sections I had eventually answered the questions to required standard but only through their further questioning. Fast forward two years and my next wholetime interview and threw everything I had at them which must have worked as seven years later here I am still!’
Useful feedback doesn’t just have to be about an interview. Finding out more about what you do well and what you could do differently at work or home is invaluable. There’s little better for pinpointing where our strengths are and where we could improve.
Something we can all do is make an effort to provide feedback to others on the ‘good’ more than the ‘bad’, and always include reference to positive performance or behaviour even if there is more difficult news to share.
Ask for it! People often don’t feel comfortable sharing their views on your performance any more than you like hearing it. So, make it easier for everyone by explaining why you would find it useful and what sort of thing you are looking for.
Don’t be defensive. Unless the feedback is delivered very badly, or there are personal or professional conflicts with the person giving it, there shouldn’t be a need to feel upset or put out. Everyone has things they could do better. Learning about yours can help.
Do something about it. There’s no point gaining feedback you don’t do anything with. Think about what you’ve been told and take steps to do things differently. Talk it over with someone else if you aren’t sure how to do this, but don’t do nothing!
Prepare for the interview of your life and receive friendly, helpful and highly constructive advice on your answers.