Tell Me about a Time You Failed at WorkMarch 17th, 2014 | Articles, Interviewing, Job Search | No Comments »
Your workplace mistakes usually don’t take center stage during the interview, but sometimes discussing them just cannot be avoided. If the hiring manager springs the “Tell me about a time you failed at work” question on you during the interview, do not panic. Answering the question simply requires a deeper understanding of why it was asked.
What the question is actually asking
The interviewer it looking for three things: responsibility, realization, and redemption. It is important that your answer reflects how you took responsibility for the mistake, realized what you did wrong, and took steps to ensure that it never happens again.
Keep the situation brief
You don’t want to harp on the mistake itself or go into too much detail about how it happened. Instead, quickly set the stage, explain what you learned, and show how you overcame adversity to make the situation right.
It’s usually a good idea to stick to rookie mistakes. They are generally more forgivable and expected of employees that are new to the industry. Focus on a time early in your career when you were still green and learning the tricks of the trade.
It’s good to have multiple mistakes
I’m not saying that you should unload every mistake you’ve ever made on the hiring manager, but having made quite a few throughout your career can actually benefit you during your job search.
You shouldn’t stick to telling the same story at every interview. Think about your past mistakes before every interview, and choose one that fits with the overall morals and goals of the company.
If your research about the company reveals that they value fast learners, choose a situation that shows how you picked up a new skill on the fly. If they value honesty and integrity, choose a time where you took full responsibility for a mistake (even if the responsibility was not fully yours to bear).
By Kevin Withers