Let’s be honest: nobody likes to fail. However, failure is an inevitable part of working life and a hiring manager knows it. Interviewers are interested in candidates who identify their mistakes and learn from this experience. Therefore, you need to be prepared to answer the question, “Tell me about a time when you failed” in a positive way.
Think of the example you will give
This is an important point because you don’t want to choose a veiled success story that isn’t really a failure, such as “I exceeded my monthly sales target by 120% but wanted it to be 130%, so I was disappointed.” At the same time, avoid talking about a big mistake or an occasion when failure costs a monumental amount of time, money or even jobs.
Think of a situation where you were careless or made a mistake in judgment that had a slight negative impact on the chosen occasion. For example, missing a deadline, not closing a contract, or not meeting one of your monthly KPIs – just make sure that the example you choose is not one of the key job requirements for which you are being interviewed.
Once you have that in mind, practice telling your story before the interview and keep in mind the following points:
Explain how it happened
When telling your story, make sure you demonstrate that you know exactly where you went wrong. Try to remember the situation/occasion and identify the obstacles that prevented you from getting what you wanted. To me, this says you know the root cause of the problem and can prevent it from happening again.
Don’t make excuses
Be careful not to attribute the reason for your failure to things beyond your control, for example, market fluctuations or staff shortages at any given time. In business, there will always be uncontrollable elements that can hinder your goals. The important thing is how you identify what’s in your immediate control and take responsibility for the times you can’t take control of a particular occasion. Otherwise, you will become defensive and unexplained during the interview.
Don’t blame others
In the same vein as above, do not blame other people when talking about the occasion. This is one of the worst things you can do. An employee who always looks for the nearest person to blame, rather than reflecting on how personally responsible they are, will always be a threat to team dynamics, morale and productivity. Talk about what you could have done to prevent the failure from occurring, and show the humble self-awareness that all managers respect.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
As you remember your story or occasion, do not insult yourself or make generalizations about who you are as an employee. Instead, stick to the facts and tell the story objectively. This will show that you can face difficult situations rather than insisting on them and complaining for a long time.
Show that you have learned from the situation.
As Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is one that we learned nothing from.” Be sure to describe what lessons you have learned from your experience and how you applied them in similar situations to achieve a more positive outcome.
As I said at the beginning, mistakes and disappointments are inevitable, so you don’t have to be nervous about this during an interview. Just make sure you choose an occasion wisely and count it in a way that demonstrates that you are a conscious and responsible candidate who will strive to learn from your mistakes in order to improve future performance.