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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

Thank you comment icon I would suggest explaining how you turned a failure into something productive or something you learned. George Zastrow

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Daniel’s Answer

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:

Make a list of common interview questions which speak to failure.
Try to ensure that at least 1 of your 5 stories can fit any given question.
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Chris’s Answer

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.

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John’s Answer

You don't have any "failures" You have learning opportunities. You learn something from every "failure". The most important thing is what you learned and what you will do differently the next time.
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Juan’s Answer

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.

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Kaitlyn’s Answer

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.

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Stephanie’s Answer

yes, by all means talk about a recent failure. A failure that you had in the third grade is not relevant. However, the main thing the interviewer wants to see is what you learned from that failure. There is saying that failure is a wonderful teacher so show the interviewer that you are not the person that keeps making the same mistakes over and over and are able to reflect in a thoughtful way about what you learned and what you will do differently. Or even more importantly, how you can apply that learning to a larger situation.
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Stephen’s Answer

With more companies using the behavioral style interview format, questions around failure often come up. The interviewer is looking for a time when you failed or faced adversity, and how you were able to learn from those mistakes and apply them later on.

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.
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Jayne’s Answer

always be ready to share what you learned from each 'opportunity'   how did it help you grow?   Don't lie or evade.   People are human, we all experience 'learning opportunities'.  It's how we use them is what matters.

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Sirlei’s Answer

Hi Deanicia,

When asked about how you overcame a failed project, or failure in general, it's important that you be truthful, but always speak to how you overcame it and what you learned from the process.

Lessons learned is very important in any industry, and your ability to show how you can learn lessons from your failures is very important.

Best of luck!

Regards,
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Ruan’s Answer

Yes, I do believe you should admit your set backs. I learned a quote which I have used on my interview which states "Failure is only achieved when you stop trying." So I rename those failures as set backs. With these setbacks, you demonstrate your character and personality. It shows the individual how ambitious you are and most importantly how adaptable you are when confronted with problems or issues that arise when attempting to attain your goal. Resistance builds character and that is what set backs are, character builders.
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Raj’s Answer

I am not sure what a failure is. How do we define it? Dictionary meaning of failure does not apply to life.
Failure is when one gives up. Example, Usain Bolt did not run fastest in his first run, was that his failure ?
Similarly during an interview, it is always a good story to tell the challenges you faced, and how you overcame those. This will make you more relatable and honest.
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Ateeb’s Answer

Rather than simply listing failures what employers like to hear is how you learnt from any shortcomings or issues. This shows that you are able to adapt to potentially challenging situations.
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Margie’s Answer

I would suggest that if you talk about failure that you focus on what you learned from it, what were your takeaways and how you will approach it differently next time. In an environment where you are required to be innovative, sometimes you have to take risks and not all risks are successful.

Depending on the person doing the interview, one of their questions may be to share a time when you failed. This would be a great opportunity to do just that. Good luck!
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kalyan’s Answer

It's okay to share our failures during the interview but we should also share what we did to overcome that failure and turn it into success
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Dan’s Answer

There is strength in admitting failure as long as you learned from the experience. In most interviews the question will come up " Tell me a time when you worked on a project and it didn't go the way you envisioned." This is a great time to tell of a time when your original approach didn't work but the knowledge you were able to achieve. This shows you growth and that you are humble.

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Akshama’s Answer

You can talk about failures if you've learnt from them. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. But people who learn from those mistakes and strive to become better are successful.

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Amy’s Answer

It may not be a good idea to volunteer the information, however, some interviewers may ask "How do you handle failure?" If this comes up during the interview, make sure you keep your composure. Don't let the question rattle you. The interviewer is not so concerned about the failure itself, but how you handled the failure. What did you learn from the experience? How did you bounce back from it? What steps have you taken to prevent recurrences of the same or similar failure. Try to have an example of two prepared prior to the interview, in case it does come up.