How To Successfully Talk About Failure In A Job Interview
How To Successfully Talk About Failure In A Job Interview.
We all want to talk about our successes in a job interview, but employers persist in asking us about our failures.
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Theyâ€™ll say, â€œTell me about a time when you failed,â€ or â€œTell us about a failed project.â€ These are important behavioral interview questions. Everyone fails at some point, and we all make mistakes. Potential employers want to know how we handle situations that donâ€™t go our way.
3 Keys To Answering Any Interview Question About Failure:
- Choose something that really was a failure
- Make sure it isnâ€™t something that has a negative effect on your ability to do the job
- Be able to talk about how you learned something from it that made you better at your job
Â Choose a real failure.
You canâ€™t say youâ€™ve never failed, because that will be an obvious lie. On the other hand, you donâ€™t want to talk about the time you lost a key account that caused the company to go bankrupt, or the time you accidentally set fire to the building. Strike a nice balance by talking about something where you learned from your mistakes and as a result, became better at your job.
Be strategic with your choice.
Just like when discussing your weaknesses, donâ€™t choose a failure that directly relates to the skill set you need for this jobâ€”so if youâ€™re in sales, donâ€™t talk about how you insulted a customer. Talk about how you overlooked an issue and had to fix itâ€”and now you always have a Plan B. If youâ€™re in accounting, donâ€™t talk about how you transposed a number and caused someone to be audited. Talk about how you miscommunicated with a coworker and what you did to repair the relationshipâ€”and found a great book on being a better communicator, so you havenâ€™t had that issue again.
Tell what you learned and how itâ€™s made you better.
Someone who can admit a mistake and show that they can improve (and want to) will be attractive to any employer. Ending your story with how itâ€™s made you better brings what is otherwise a negative in the interview back to the positive reasons they should hire you.
Here are some good examples for how to successfully talk about failure in an interview:
One failure was that in my first job, I missed a deadline for a project. I knew that couldnâ€™t happen again, so I took a course to learn my Outlook program in greater detail so that I could use it to keep myself on time and organized. Iâ€™ve never missed a deadline again. The great thing that came from it was that I was able to really boost my productivity and provide a greater benefit to my organization.
I am a naturally optimistic person, which usually means I have a great attitude and I get along with everyone, but once it caused me to overlook the possibility for an issue with my project. The issue turned into a problem that I had to solve, when it would have been easier to avoid it in the first place. Since then, Iâ€™ve learned to always look for pitfalls and make contingency plansâ€”so when things do sometimes happen, Iâ€™m ready.
When you admit the failure, always talk about the positive outcome from it. Show how you learned from your mistake and wonâ€™t make it again.