As job seekers, it is crucial to be prepared for the various questions that may arise during an interview. One question that often catches candidates off guard is, “Tell me about a time you failed.” While it may seem like a daunting question, it provides employers with valuable insight into how you handle challenges and setbacks. It allows them to assess your ability to learn from mistakes and grow both personally and professionally.
When faced with this question, it is important to approach it with honesty and transparency. Instead of trying to avoid discussing a failure, use it as an opportunity to showcase your resilience and problem-solving skills. Begin by selecting a failure that is relevant to the job you are applying for and one that ultimately led to personal growth or a positive outcome. By sharing a specific example, you can demonstrate your ability to reflect on past experiences and use them as stepping stones for future success.
How to Answer a Question: Tell me about a time you failed.
There are actually several ways to approach this question, but let me break it down for you. First, let’s talk about why interviewers ask it and what a typical answer might be. Then, I’ll share with you what the ideal response should be, as well as what makes a good or even a great answer.
And of course, I’ll throw in an extra tip to help you absolutely nail this question. Sound good? Let’s dive in!
Why did the interviewer ask this?
To assess your ability to take responsibility, learn from mistakes, and demonstrate resilience.
I once missed a deadline at work.
Remember the Titanic? Kinda like that, but with spreadsheets.
Highlight the situation, take responsibility, and focus on what you learned from it.
At [Company/Project], I [specific failure]. I realized [what went wrong], and it taught me [lesson learned]. Since then, I’ve implemented [specific strategies] to prevent such situations in the future.
Last Tip on How to Answer Tell me about a time you failed.
Emphasize growth and learning. Everyone makes mistakes; what’s important is how you respond and grow from them.
If you’re into this tip, you can download 121 Interview Questions and Answers for free! It’s a great way to get more insights on how to answer those common questions in the best way possible.
Practice Your Answers in a Mock Job Interview
Answering this question is a breeze if you know how! But what really counts is practice. The best way to do that? Give mock interviews a shot! You can learn more about mock interviews here, or try out this Free Mini-Interview.
Final Thoughts on the Question: Tell me about a time you failed.
Reflecting on our failures can be a daunting task, but it is through these moments of adversity that we truly grow and learn. When faced with the question, “Tell me about a time you failed,” it is important to approach it with honesty, humility, and a growth mindset. By following these tips, you will not only be able to answer this question effectively, but also inspire others with your resilience and determination.
Remember, failure is not a sign of weakness, but rather a stepping stone towards success. Embrace the opportunity to share a story of a time when you faced a setback, made a mistake, or fell short of your goals. Be transparent about the emotions you experienced during that time, as it shows your vulnerability and authenticity. By doing so, you will not only demonstrate your ability to take ownership of your failures, but also your willingness to learn from them.
As you conclude your response, leave the interviewer with a sense of inspiration and hope. Share how this failure has shaped you into the person you are today, and how it has motivated you to strive for continuous improvement. Emphasize the valuable lessons you have learned and the actions you have taken to overcome that failure. By doing so, you will not only inspire others to embrace their own failures as opportunities for growth, but also showcase your resilience and determination to succeed. Remember, failure is not the end, but rather a stepping stone towards greatness.
Jan Tegze, author of the bestseller “Full Stack Recruiter” and “Job Search Guide: Be Your Own Career Coach,” has over 15+ years of invaluable experience. Jan’s extensive background in full life cycle recruiting and profound understanding of international sourcing, recruitment branding, marketing, and pioneering sourcing techniques.