Should I talk about my failures when being interviewed for a job?
I read an article about how a recruiter who interviews students got an answer of "I expect failure" from one of the students. Then they went and wrote an article on how this answer was amazing. Should I do the same and state some failures like struggles in class or should I keep that to myself. science technology mathematics interviews interview-questions failure job-application
Questions speaking to your failures, weaknesses or difficult issues you had to handle are common in interview scenarios. It is important to give an answer covers the following key points:
- Shows your humility by taking ownership of the failure.
- Talks to what you did to fix the situation at the time.
- Speaks to what you learned to help avoid the issue happening again in the future.
I would avoid trying to use tactics to avoid giving a real answer, like the classical 'weakness is a strength' approach. The interviewer doesn't want to know how tricky you are. They want to know that you know how to handle failure and grow as a person.
I recommend you do some google searches and make a list of common questions which speak to these difficult times. Then, try to identify at least 5 times in your past where a situation occurred so that you can use to speak to the question. Try not to over-prepare for the specific interview questions. Your answer will feel more genuine if you can fit one of your chosen stories to whichever question comes up in the interview. Just keep the 3 points above in mind when picking which story will best fit the question you have been asked.
Daniel recommends the following next steps:
I wouldn't volunteer the information, but I have had 3 Interviews where the question came up: "What was a difficult situation that you had to deal with, and how did you go about solving it". There will always be challenges which you will have to overcome, and the ability to deal with them calmly and effectively is a rare skill which companies find invaluable. However, opening any conversation with 'I expect to fail' could go just as much against you as in your favor. Be prepared to talk about your problem solving methodology, your reactions to stressful situations, and your any strengths that you may have in working with others. These are universal concerns for all employees. It is true that failure is inevitable, but the lessons learned from hardship are the ones that stick with you.
It is ok to talk failures during interviews with the objective to speak to learning experiences gained from those failures. The most successful people fail over and over again in their journey but all learn from those experiences.
Yes, you absolutely should.
Try to reframe your thinking. Instead of referring to your missteps as failures, think of them as opportunities. An interviewer is asking you about a time where you felt like you failed because they want to see how you learned from that opportunity and what actions you took to improve and move forward.
You will need to have a measurable result from the failure, so try to have two scenarios ready for this question - the failure, and then the example were you used what you learned from that failure to succeed later on.
These types of questions also show your critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities. We have all failed at something, so not being able to provide an example of failure would come across as dishonest or disingenuous.
I would not recommend proactively bringing up failure.
This is a great question, especially because we're often told to talk ourselves up in interviews. How can we talk ourselves up and at the same time be transparent about our failures, right? Once you understand why interviewers ask that question you understand how failures and your reactions to failures are a great way to put yourself at the front of the pack. Here are two reasons they might ask and how you can answer...
1) Interviewers ask about failure because they want to understand how you handle failures. Of course, we all would hope that we never fail, but the truth is that inevitably, we will. So what happens when you do? Do you cry or blame others and go into a hole? OR do you "fail fast", learn from it and look for a way to turn that failure into a success? Its those who can do the second- fail fast and turn failure into success, who will lead the pack. We all fail. Employers want someone who can do it the right way. Show them that's you. Give examples when you can.
2) Interviewers ask about failures because they want to understand how you view risks and failures. Failure and risk inevitable go hand and hand. The more risk you take on the more likely it is you'll fail. Employees need people who are more or less open to risk based on the role. For example Innovation and Sales teams need to be very open to risk, while finance and Accounting are more risk-averse. Different companies may also have a culture that is more open to risk and don't always see failure as a bad thing. Be sure to research the company culture and the role you're applying for. Know how comfortable they are with risks and failures.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
You should only talk about how you overcame your weakness and learning from difficult situations, you should always present yourself in a positive manner to the interviewer.
Its always good to talk about your past experiences and how it helped you to become a better person technically, the extra effort you put in, new skills that you developed.
David recommends the following next steps:
Their intent is to understand and capture as to how you operated in such a drastic situation.
During an interview process, answers in the angles of STAR - Situation, Task, Action and Result approach would help to address any behavioural questions.
In my viewpoint, what there is a setback, I recommend not to look down on you in the first place (& do not shy away!)
It is crucial that you pick yourself up and stand upright with adrenaline pumped to see through the lenses of what happened, what did you do that didn't work, what you could have done differently and finally, take the lessons and take charge to bounce or make leaps forward!
This will exactly lead to your reflections and act as your answers for those questions.
Remember, the way you behave, think and feel is natural and so how you represent yourself in an interview is not just to get your foot at the door but also will draw the road for your journey with the company.
All the best!
1) Situation: Take about the background of the situation you are in.
2) Task: Explain the specifics about what you were supposed to be doing the time that you failed.
3) Action: Talk about your specific failure.
4)Resolution: Finish the story with a reflection on what went wrong AND how you showed measurable improvement in the future.
A brief example:
1) Situation- Freshman year I decided to sign up for a class on geology.
2) Task- For the final project, we were assigned a paper where we had to research a specific rock and discuss special properties about its material components.
3) Action- I ended up spending way too much time studying for all of my other finals and left the paper until the very last night to finish. I pulled an all nighter and was able to get it done, but when the grade came back it was much lower than I had hoped. It ended up significantly lowering my overall grade in the class.
4) Resolution- Looking at my final grades for the semester I was very disappointed in myself and knew I could have done better if only I had budgeted my time properly. The next semester I had another final paper to write for my history class. This time I started the paper long before finals week. Being proactive on the paper gave me time to put more effort into it. I was able to achieve an A in my history class and learned my lesson on time management during finals week.
Important notes: Really take the time to finish the story with a great resolution. The interviewers really want to see that you have learned from this mistake and made changes in the future. Also, think out of the box for your failure examples. A failure could be as simple as a time you did poorly on one test or as complicated as an entire presentation backfiring. There are no limits and you get to decide what your standards are for a failure. Finally, take the time to practice this STAR method and come up with a couple failure examples before your interview.
Failure is scary - the idea of it, even just the word. But if we can change our perspective and embrace failure
as an opportunity to learn or to change, we'll be able to get out of our comfort zones and encourage growth.
Calculating risk is normal - should I or shouldn't I, what are the benefits v. costs, do I really have what it takes,
what will happen if I fail - or what will happen if I succeed? Taking on a challenge takes courage and commitment.
Sure, you may fail, but you'll be better equipped to take on the next challenge that comes your way. Be resilient.
Admitting failures requires a sense of humility and strength. When someone asks you to share a story about
one of your failures, they really want to know if you are bold enough to take risks, humble enough to admit your downfalls,
and strong enough to bounce back. That way, next time, you'll be able to fail better - and keep learning from mistakes,
pushing boundaries, and pressing forward.
You should spin your "failures" into opportunities to overcome. If you experienced a "failure," share what you learned from it and how you overcame it. If it was a failure that you could not overcome, share what the gap was that you were not able to bypass it. If you cannot elaborate, then do not include it. The key is demonstrating shared learnings and problem solving.
When interviewing you are going to be asked about previous work. The biggest thing I look for when conducting interviews is for the candidate to self reflect on previous jobs and opportunities from this position. If someone embraces their opportunities they are going to look for ways to improve and due to this become more successful. Whether you improve from feedback given or seek out help from a peer in regards to the failure you have gained more knowledge as an employee.
When you are being asked if you ever failed - I believe in honesty because the truth is- we all failed at some point but sharing what you have learned from the situation is a way to show your attitude towards different tasks and how you adapted to a situation.
In my life experience- I never really had anyone asking me this questions-the focus of most interviews is to bring the best of you and allow you to share your success rate and not to see the other way around. You could be asked about your strengths and your weaknesses -this is another way for you to highlight you best competency and discuss challenging behaviors.
Show that you learned from the experience- be honest and don’t try to make excuses .
Your approach in answering this should be mainly focused on how you overcame that failure/challenge and what did you learn from it. This should be projected in a positive way adding to your strong personality.
I have found that interviews are a chance to show that you have learned from mistakes, and be honest about them - because everyone makes mistakes! The important part to highlight in your interview answer (and spend the most time on) is how you grew from that situation and what you would do differently the next time to have a better outcome.
I also recommend being open to sharing failure with others as a way of teaching and developing them to be better. People can learn a lot by learning from the failure of others. Being open and honest about our vulnerabilities including failure is very important to our ability to move forward together. Embrace it, be confident and be bold about what you learned and took away from the experience overall.
If you can talk about what you learned from a failure, yes. Many people would appreciate this but maybe not all, so I'm not sure if it should be volunteered information or not. I guess it would depend on the interviewer and type of place or company culture.
Trying and failing is one way to learn new things including when in a job and in building a career. Some interviewers and recruiters are going to prefer one who tries new things and learns from the failures.
Christopher recommends the following next steps:
Long answer: Don't just end there. Explain (in a concise way) the experience where you failed in the SAR format. SAR stands for Situation, Action, Result. Another variation is called PAR (Problem, Action, Result). The central idea is that for any experience or story that you share in an interview, start with the problem statement or the situation that you found yourself into. This part gives a little background and the issue that you faced. The next part is about how you analyzed the problem and came up with a solution along with any interesting tidbit from the execution of your plan. Finally, you state the outcome of your actions. Now its possible that the result didn't really solve the issue that you faced so it could be considered as a failure but be crisp and don't try to blame others or give excuses. Own it if it was indeed your mistake and always share what you learnt so that it does not happen again. Interviewers are not looking for a perfect person. They want a genuine candidate who can own up to their mistakes and learn from it to avoid something like that in the future. This shows that you are coachable and willing to learn.
There is nothing wrong with using failure as an interview example or talk track during an interview. The trick is what the end result is from the failure that you have encountered.
If you are taking what you have failed at, and showed how you have grown from it and have overcome the initial failure then it shows how you have grown as either an individual or a leader. I would not recommend just talking about a failure you have encountered and not adding anything to it.
By talking about failures, you show humility in being able to accept mistakes and take accountability, but what will allow you to shine is how you overcome, learn and show tenacity. From experience of conducting interviews, the discussion on this topic and how others find resolve during failures reveals most about one's character. In my opinion, gauging character is the unwritten intuition on selecting successful candidates especially when the candidate pool all look the same "on paper".
Having said that, I wouldn't frame your interview around failures all the time, but there is a balance to prove that you're not perfect either. If needing to talk about failures and challenges faced, I would also ensure it's "relevant" to the position/question. Some positions are looking for your ability to be process driven/accurate in what you do, while others are seeking curious/thought-leaders who challenge the status quo. It's the latter where experimenting with ideas, possibly failing, then repivoting will be a very strong trait.
Making a negative into a positive is another way to look at challenges in life. I hated speaking in public. as i would get nervous and forget lines or entire parts of my speech. I messed up so badly one time that i started to laugh at myself and just closed my eyes and did my lines perfectly. I found my friends were cheering for me and clapped when i stopped being so afraid. I continued to practice future speeches in the dark and become more comfortable speaking in public gradually. My teacher suggested i try being a MC for my cousin's wedding. Although i was scared at first, it was actually fun to just speak freestyle and be natural especially since it was in front of my friends and family.
After putting in the effort and not giving up, I am no longer scared of large crowds or speaking in front of strangers, I actually find that i enjoy making new friends when I am asked to be a speaker.
You should really think deep how to answer those follow-up questions.
In most interviews I have been a part of there is some sort of question about a time that "things didn't go as planned" or a deadline was missed or some other "failure" that you may have experienced. When using any example think about what you learned from the experience and how you apply that to what you do going forward. Everyone knows that no one is perfect. If you are honest with what struggles you have gone through and focus how you learn from your mistakes and take action to ensure it doesn't happen in the future, a hiring manager will know that you can learn and not repeat the same mistakes multiple times.
Angie recommends the following next steps:
Whenever possible, I try to describe the results in specifics, or even quantify them. Doing so provides evidence that the "failure" truly was a learning experience and ultimately was something that made you stronger, smarter, and an even better candidate for the job.
While you don't want to oversell your failures, showing a potential employer you have learned something from a past mistake could actually be a good thing. As a matter of fact, I have been on a few interviews where I was directly asked about past mistakes and what I learned from them. Everyone makes mistakes and your interviewer is not ignorant of that. The important thing is what steps you have taken to prevent such mistakes from occurring again and how you have learned from the past experience. I would personally not dwell too much on this particular issue in an interview, but don't be scared to go there, rather be prepared for this question.
All the very best!
Don't be afraid of this question. It typically is assessing your ability to learn and grow and be self aware. Address the question head on, prepare and list an example or two where you learned from a mistake or failure to achieve your goal. Be sure to share how you owned it, what you did about it and how that shaped you going forward.
Earl recommends the following next steps:
In the same way, you should take about how you have recovered from the failures to show how mentally strong.
That will definitely inspire the interviewer.
Hello! It is great that you are preparing now for your future interviews. I would not recommend that you volunteer failures. I would encourage you to be prepared to answer to failure if asked. During behavioral interviews you may be asked for a time you failed, something you liked least about the job you left or are something you feel would be an opportunity for you in the job you have applied for. It is best to speak directly about the task or event, and then offer a confident answer that speaks to how you overcame or how you turned it around, what you learned or how you grew from the experience. I recommend you keep an ongoing journal with your successes and failures. Be specific and document real time while it is fresh in your mind. This will be a Resource you can draw from as you prepare for interviews.
This is a common question during interviews. I would not volunteer this information unless asked but I would rather call it learning opportunities versus failures.
When presented with this question, my best advice is to focus on the situation, what you did to correct it and what did you learn from it and how would you handle it differently if you encounter it again in the future.
Keep your answer to this question short and sweet.
Great question to ask. I would recommend avoiding that question unless you are specifically asked this question . Most employers will not ask this question anyway. Sometimes by providing too much unneeded information people sometimes can talk themselves right out of a new job . Always focus on the positive things you've done at your previous job and the good feedback and relationships you've created.
Ravi recommends the following next steps:
Focus on how you over come challenges rather that stating failures. It shows that yes, failures/bad things happen. But it is how you get back up that counts. Everyone fails, that is how you learn.
In any industry, you will numerous challenges every morning you come to work. What matters is the resilience and your capacity to address and learn from them.
Your attitude towards failures can become an important barometer in understanding how you approach an unfamiliar situation, something not uncommon in today's job environment.!
But, these questions are often necessary.
You should acknowledge your weaknesses and take responsibility for your failures.
This can also reveal the kinds of risks you take and the habits you possess, and define your own perceptions of success and failure.
Failures is not something to be discouraged about. you can share the learning you got from the failures.
Everyone has failed in some way or the other but the important thing that differentiates you from other people is your attitude to never give up and think smartly in difficult situations.
Same way you should address it during your interviews!
All the best :)
It is rightly said "Failures are the stepping stones to success". While talking about failures, it is important to put them in the right perspective. The after-effect of the failure is much more important than the failure itself. So make sure that your narration covers the insights on what lead to not achieving success. What life-lessons your learnt from the failure. What helped you to bounce back and continue the journey.
I would point you to a quote about Michael Jordan, "(he) believes that the training should always be harder than the playing, so failure becomes an opportunity to improve".
With that as a baseline, it's good to be able to talk through situations where you could've done better or you didn't hit the target of what you were supposed to. Talk through the situation, what prevented you from your goal/objective, and what was the outcome? Then, it's about what you learned from the situation and most importantly, how you've applied these learnings since then.
If you're able to articulate an answer to this question, I think it's a major plus in an interview.
It shows great confidence in where you have come from and what you have achieved. Everyone talks about their successes and highlights, which is fine, and a great way to showcase your achievements. What is also important to note is there are hardly any success stories not having a background of either a string or at least one failure. It shows great strength of character if you are able to demonstrate both success and failure as learning opportunities.
I would suggest focus instead on building a success story after a setback, on the lesson learned and how you bounced back
Kathryn recommends the following next steps:
I've interviewed many people and this is a common question. As a few others have indicated, focus on what you learned and what you'd do differently. In some cases its not failure because you made a mistake, but rather you may have been testing out a theory, or maybe more information came to light after you started. Don't be afraid to share those. Being afraid to fail stifles creativity and innovation. Fail fast if you have to and learn quickly. On the other side, if you failed because you were unprepared, you should have a very good explanation of what you've learned and how you've already modified your behavior as a result.