During an upcoming job interview, you want to promote your accomplishments and skills. However, don’t let a question about a mistake or a weakness throw you off track. When a hiring manager asks this question, they’re not trying to make you squirm. They’re simply trying to find out how you handle challenges and ways you overcome them.
Keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes – even the person interviewing you. But how we individual responds to those mistakes is very different. Some people fall apart or point the finger, while others take accountability and make things right. The hiring manager essentially wants to know where you fall on the scale, whether you’re self-aware, and if you have what it takes to do the job.
To help you answer this tricky question, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Answering “Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake”
Don’t say something vague like “I’m a perfectionist.” Hiring managers have heard this one before and want a candidate who is honest and authentic. So give them a specific example of a past mistake you made in your career, what happened, and how you fixed it. Focus more on what you learned from the experience and how you improved in the long run due to the mistake. You might also want to talk about any steps you took to ensure the problem didn’t happen again.
Avoid red flags.
While you want to be honest, there are some mistakes worth skipping over. For instance, if you made a mistake that is critical to the role you’re interviewing for, avoid bringing this up. Also, don’t discuss mistakes that might make the hiring manager question your character or integrity. Instead, focus on an area where you stumbled that isn’t directly related to the job.