INTERVIEW TIPS - How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time You Failed” in a Job Interview
“Tell me about a time you failed” is an interview question job seekers dread. How can you be prepared to ace it? Here are some tips.
- Focus on learning. What the interviewer ultimately wants (and they may even state this explicitly) is not so much your story of failure but what you learned from it and how you turned that insight into a productive approach.
- Choose a miscalculation, not a mistake. Don’t draw attention to your character. When did something external not go as planned? When was a strategy ineffective? When did an approach miss the target?
- Look for a we, not a me. A team failing as a group might seem more relatable (and excusable) than an individual failing because there was consensus behind the decision making.
- Describe a low-consequence event, and keep it brief. Make sure the stakes of your story are relatively low, not catastrophic, and that you don’t linger on unnecessary details.
- Be thoughtful about the words you use—and don’t defend yourself. Use words like learned, gleaned, grew, and overcame. Avoid defensive or regretful language.
This tip is adapted from “How to Answer ‘Tell Me About a Time You Failed’ in a Job Interview,” by Joel Schwartzberg
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