Sunday, December 11, 2011

Giving Constructive Feedback

Getting and giving feedback regarding attending and listening skills is essential to interviewer development. Specific and concrete feedback regarding eye contact, body language, vocal qualities, and verbal tracking can be obtained through in-class activities, demonstrations, role plays, and audio- or videotape presentations. For example, positive feedback such as: “You looked into your client’s eyes with only two or three breaks, and although you fidgeted somewhat with your pencil, it didn’t appear to interfere with the interview” is clear and specific (and helpful). General and positive comments (e.g., “Good job!”) are pleasant and encouraging, but should be used in combination with more specific feedback; it’s important to know what was good about your job. Sometimes, class activities or role plays don’t go well and negative feedback is appropriate. Give negative feedback in a constructive or corrective manner. (This means the feedback shouldn’t simply indicate what you did poorly, but also identify what you could do to perform the skill correctly.) For example, constructive negative or corrective feedback might sound like “You kept your eyes downcast most of the time. When you did look up and make eye contact, the interviewee seemed to brighten and become more engaged. So, next time try to maintain your eye contact a little longer.”Getting negative feedback is a sensitive issue because it can be painful to hear that you haven’t performed perfectly. In contrast to general positive feedback, general negative comments such as “Terrible job!” should always be avoided. To be constructive, negative feedback should be specific and concrete. Other guidelines for giving negative feedback include:
                Remember, the reason you’re in an interviewing class is to improve your interviewing skills. Though hard to hear, constructive feedback is useful for skill development.
                Feedback should never be uniformly negative. Everyone engages in positive and negative attending behaviors. If you happen to be the type who easily sees what’s wrong, but has trouble offering praise, impose the following rule on yourself: If you cannot think of something positive to say about an interviewer’s performance, don’t say anything at all.
                It helps to practice giving negative feedback in a positive manner. For example, instead of saying, “Your body was stiff as a board” try saying “You’d be more effective if you relaxed your arms and shoulders more.”
                Role players should evaluate themselves first.
                Students should be asked directly after a class interviewing activity whether they would like feedback. If they say no, then no feedback should be given.
                Feedback that is extremely negative is the responsibility of the instructor and should be given during a private, individual supervision session.
                Try to remember the disappointing fact that no one performs perfectly, including the teacher or professor.

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