“What is your biggest failure?” asks the interviewer.
You may be asked probing questions about your previous work experiences and how you handled different events during a job interview. While it is hard to predict every interview question, the hiring manager may ask, “What is your biggest failure?” Knowing how to answer this question can show interviewers your resiliency and ability to turn tragedy into a learning opportunity. In this piece, we’ll look at why interviewers inquire about failure and give examples of effective responses.
Why do employers want to know about failure?
Interviewers understand that no one is perfect. They want to know if you are self-aware enough to see your weaknesses and if you can learn from your failures. Failures also show a lot about who you are as an employee, such as if you are willing to take calculated risks and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to achieve your goals. This question also reflects your general outlook on risk, failure, and success. If you have never failed, you may not have taken chances or succeeded.
How do you answer the question, “What is your worst failure?”
Here are some tips for crafting an effective response to this interview question:
1. Choose a specific failure
Choose an actual failure that occurred in the workplace, preferably one that is pertinent to the task at hand. Look for a story in which something goes wrong. It is crucial to choose the right story to explain a situation in which only one thing went wrong. This will allow you to keep the story brief and express what you learned and what you can do better the next time. A team failure can be a fantastic choice to share with your interviewer because you share blame with others. All that is required is that you accept responsibility for your role in the failure.
2. Share your story
Tell the interviewer about your chosen tale. Keep in mind that the goal of this question is to analyze how you handle setbacks, so try to get to the point of the story where you detail how you handled the failure as soon as possible. You could discuss what made the issue tough and what you did to try to resolve it. Accept the truth that things did not go as planned.
3. Pay attention to what you’ve learned.
Discuss what you believe went wrong and contributed to the failure, what you would have done differently, and what changes you made going forward. Assume your failure was caused by assuming what your customers wanted. Your takeaway from the incident could be that you will never make an assumption again, and that you will undertake more market research and poll your client base in the future—even testing the product with a small sample of people—before investing totally in a new product or service.
Responses to the topic “What has been your greatest failure?”
Here are some possible answers to questions about previous failures:
“I was in charge of a project for a new client who required a large number of unique product descriptions to boost their site’s SEO position.” Because they were a new client, I promised them that we would get it back to them in two weeks because I wanted to impress them with the quality of our work. With so many authors on the project, I assumed this would be possible, but it ended up requiring an extra week, and they were not happy.
We apologized and promised not to do the same mistake again. It occurred to me that under-promising and over-delivering is far preferable. The client will not be upset if you are clear about the timeline from the start. Problems arise when promised timescales are not met. This experience taught me to be more cautious when dealing with client expectations. In the next client project I worked on, I made sure to allow extra time for unanticipated eventualities, and I guaranteed them we would deliver in four weeks. They were pleased when we delivered in three days.”
Exemplification No. 2
“I chose a position in which I was in charge of putting together a sales team to solve the company’s primary revenue concerns.” I was confident in my abilities and believed I could complete the task. However, once I came, I discovered that the problems were not only with revenue, but also with the organization’s structure. Within a month, I recognized I wouldn’t be able to have the desired impact.
When I realized I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my sales goals, I briefly considered resigning, but instead chose to concentrate on the areas I could control. I met with corporate management and revised our annual sales targets. We also chose to shrink my crew and engage a consultant to deal with some of the company’s more significant concerns. Being in this position reminded me of the importance of focusing on what you can control and working together to overcome complex problems. I also learned the hard way not to rush in and make promises without fully understanding the scope of the problem.”
“My manager assigned me the task of interviewing, hiring, and training an entry-level employee for our customer support team some years ago.” Based on previous job experiences, I chose to hire someone who seemed eager to learn and had a lot of promise. After checking their social media profiles, I had a few doubts, but I chose to hire them anyhow. I quickly discovered I had made a mistake and that their social media activity predicted their employment conduct well. They were very theatrical, had a horrible attitude, and had a poor impact on the entire crew, so I had to fire them.
From senior management to interns, the experience taught me the importance of every hiring decision. Every employee has an impact on the morale and culture of the firm. It also taught me not to rush hiring decisions and to seek feedback if I had concerns about a candidate. I’ve learnt to trust my intuition more. It is, however, a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in my career.”