This is a common interview question that employers ask to see if you’re able to learn from mistakes and bounce back when things don’t go your way.
They always want to see if you can own-up to it and be accountable and actually admit to your failures.
- Admit to a real failure
- Describe the situation and what went wrong
- Show that you take responsibility (rather than blaming others), and show you learned from it
- Ideally, talk about how you used that lesson to get a different outcome next time you were presented with a similar challenge (e.g. how you turned a past failure into a future success)
- Say you never fail
- Talk about a failure but then blame others and talk about how it wasn’t really your fault
- Give a long-winded answer that goes off-track. You really need to be concise and show you can tell a clear story. That’s one more thing employers look for when they ask this interview question.
Sample Interview Answer:
“In my most recent position, I had recently been promoted to Supervisor, and was managing the department on my own right before the department closed. An employee was acting out and I confronted him in front of everybody. It made the situation worse and caused a lot of distraction for every employee on the floor. I failed to lead properly in this situation, and spoke to my manager the next day to discuss what I could have done differently. We both agreed that I should have handled this in-private with the employee, by asking them to step inside my office with me. If I had done this instead of reacting the way I did, the situation would have turned out much better. From that point onward, I am always conscious of whether a discussion with a team member should occur in public or behind closed doors, and it made me a better leader.”