Job Interview Question & Answer: What Is Your Greatest Failure and What Did You Learn from It?

Learning from Failure in Order to Get the Job

Why Ask About Failure in the First Place?
No interviewer expects an applicant to personify perfection, as such expectations remain both typically unattainable and generally unfair in nature. Nevertheless, each candidate may still face questions relating to failure in previous positions. Contrary to most beliefs of the interviewees, human resource personnel do not ask such questions as a method of torture or to dig for evidence of flaws or any excuse to reject candidates. Most employers may ask such queries as standard behavioral questions in order to decipher whether or not potential adapt to instances of personal or professional failure, remain self-aware and willing to acknowledge failures, and personal perceptions of acceptable risk.

How Not to Answer Questions About Failure
Perhaps the biggest mistake a job seeker may make during any interview includes not answering questions about failure at all, changing the subject, or interpreting such inquiries as opportunities to profess never failing. By not responding or turning each response into the antithesis of a genuine response, potential employers may deem applicants possess impractical self-images, wish to hide past mistakes, or making bold decisions remains a foreign concept in day-to-day work. Additionally, no aspirant should interpret questions about past failures as opportunities to highlight major regrets. Focusing on personal downfalls may show applicants possess true dissatisfaction with life in general. Instead, focus on smaller, although significant, instances of possible failure and how the circumstances improved a candidate from a professional standpoint.

Answering Questions About Failure Correctly
In order to impress upon hiring personnel lessons learned from past failures, each potential employee should show the challenges actually presented learning opportunities. Before each interview, each candidate should take time to reflect on key decisions and highpoints occurring in careers or education. Reflect on decisions made and evaluate decisions to see the effects presented ongoing opportunities for growth. Prepare answers beforehand, if possible. Avoid touching on situations presenting possible red flags to prospective employers, such as character flaws or blaming teammates for group failures. Focus responses on what lessons learned and point to applying the knowledge and skills learned from the situation.

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