How Do You Answer: “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”

Many interview questions are tricky. However, some are more perplexing than others. The “Tell me about a time you failed” one tends to fall into this category. It’s difficult to answer for several reasons. First, you want to be honest and authentic. At the same time, you don’t want to sabotage your candidacy by saying the wrong thing. It’s a tight rope to walk.

So why do hiring managers even ask this question in the first place?

It might feel like it; however, the hiring manager isn’t trying to dig up dirt on you. They’re simply attempting to determine how you’ve responded in past situations that didn’t go as planned.

Everyone makes mistakes and fails at times on the job. The difference is in how you react and respond to the situation. That’s what the hiring manager truly wants to find out about.

Now that you understand why you’re being asked this question, how do you approach the answer? There are a few simple tips to follow, including:

Remain calm and don’t avoid.

If you start showing visible signs of stress, the hiring manager will wonder why. So don’t squirm or lose eye contact. Also, don’t act offended that they’d ask the question in the first place. It’s a common inquiry for all types of jobs and makes sense a hiring manager would ask it.

Be self-aware and honest.

The best answers are those that are straightforward and honest. Explain the details of the situation, providing a rundown of what happened, why it happened, and the players involved. However, focus mostly on what you learned from it and how this knowledge could potentially help you perform better if offered the job. This will help the hiring manager assess your self-awareness and ability to recover and work through a difficult situation.

Be ready with an example.

Expect that a hiring manager is going to ask this question. Come up with an example ahead of time, one that shows you were in the wrong, but not in a way that cost your past employer thousands of dollars. Your goal is to offer an authentic example of a misstep and what you did to turn it around.

There are many ways to answer this and other interview questions. The key to a strong performance is in preparing ahead of time. If you’d like help with the job, turn to the team at Future Force.

Since 1992, we’ve been one of Orlando, FL’s leading staffing agencies, offering employment assistance, ranging from resume and interview preparation, help to access job opportunities not always advertised. Contact us today to learn more or search our jobs now.

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