“What is your biggest regret?” asks the interviewer.
A successful interview may necessitate navigating a variety of difficult questions and developing replies that reflect favourably on you as a candidate. Hiring managers and employers, for example, may ask you what your biggest professional regret is in order to assess the type of experiences you’ve had in the past. If you’re preparing for an interview, it may be beneficial to understand more about this topic and how to effectively answer it. This article explains why employers ask this question and how to respond to it, with three examples.
Why do employers inquire, “What is your greatest regret?”
Employers may ask this question to examine your level of self-awareness and to learn how you handle difficult situations. Employers may be able to determine whether you have a tendency to accept responsibility for your acts or whether you blame others for your mistakes based on your response. Employers can evaluate what kind of experiences you’ve had, how you’ve overcome any hurdles you’ve experienced, and how these experiences may affect your performance in the role for which you’re interviewing from this information.
How to answer the question “What is your biggest regret?”
Here’s a step-by-step strategy to writing an effective response to this question:
1. Think about professional encounters you’ve had that you regret
Answering this question needs you to think about your prior experiences and what you regret the most. Identify a professional encounter, rather than a personal one, that you might handle differently right now. Consider previous situations you’ve worked to improve so you can outline the efforts you’ve taken to overcome this obstacle in your response.
2. Describe how you handled your experience truthfully and explain how you gained from it
Once you’ve decided which situation to mention in your response, describe how you handled it in truthful and honest terms. It’s critical to be candid when answering this question so that a hiring manager can assess your self-awareness and whether you’ve given serious thought to your professional path. From here, you can explain what you learned and why you regret your experience.
3. Conclude your response by describing your future steps.
You might conclude your response by detailing what measures you’ve taken to move forward from the scenario after explaining your experience and why it stands out. This can demonstrate to hiring managers that you are a proactive issue solver who is invested in their professional development. For example, if you wish you had studied a different major in college, you may be able to share what educational resources you used to cover knowledge gaps.
Examples of responses to the question “What is your greatest regret?”
After examining a few sample responses, you may be able to answer this question more successfully. Here are three sample responses on various experiences that professionals may regret that you can use as a guide while preparing for your interview:
1. Turning down a job or a promotion
If you feel bad about turning down a job offer or a promotion, you can talk about it in your answer and explain what you’ve done since then to advance your career.
Example: “In my mid-twenties, I received a job offer from a technology company that was outside of my existing skill set. At the time, I was happy with my employment and worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet the standards for the job they gave me. Accepting that job could have been a valuable professional growth opportunity for me, allowing me to advance my career in a growing industry.
When I realized how much I wished I had taken advantage of this chance, I began looking for other opportunities for advancement and employment that would allow me to obtain more expertise in the technology sector. While I still wish I could take the offer, I know I’m ready to move on from this experience, which is why I’m interested in working for your organization.”
2. Ignoring opportunities for advancement
Professionals sometimes pass up growth opportunities such as workshops, conferences, and certification courses in order to focus on their immediate career goals. If this is your experience and you regret it, explain why in your response and talk about what you’re doing now to improve your talents.
Example: “In my position as a communications specialist, I’ve been fortunate to receive numerous offers to participate in professional development opportunities during the last five years. I declined many of these invites because I thought I was too preoccupied with the business at hand. This caused me to disregard my professional development, which I deeply regret because I now see how much I would have benefited from these opportunities to broaden my skill set.
While I still wish I had accepted the invites I got, I’ve recently taken a more proactive position in the development of my competencies. I’ve been able to attend three weekend-long courses in the last year alone, culminating in me receiving an advanced certification that validates my talents in the marketing profession. I’ve been able to develop a growth attitude, and I intend to continue improving my skills.”
3. Choosing the incorrect major in college
Professionals may discover mid-career that they would have benefited more from studying a different discipline in college. If you received your degree and believe that another discipline would have better fit your needs and interests, you can discuss this in your response and describe what you’re doing to get the education you want.
Example: “When I started college, I decided to pursue a career in health care since it was what my parents wanted—my father was a nurse and my mother was a doctor, so it seemed like the proper option for me. I received my bachelor’s degree in biology and worked for a year before applying to medical school. During that year, I recognized that my passion was not in health care, but in social work, and I immediately regretted pursuing biology rather than a discipline that would have been more applicable to my profession, such as psychology.
Though I can’t go back in time and redo my undergrad education, I’ve opted to pursue a master’s degree in social work (M.S.W.) so that I may begin my career in this field, and I’m grateful that I was able to make this decision before applying to medical school. Following completion of my degree, I intend to obtain professional license in order to work as a practitioner with individuals in need of mental health care.”
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