Although discussing previous mistakes may not be your favourite topic of conversation, it is an excellent way to demonstrate your capacity for growth and learning. During a job interview, an employer may inquire about your previous work mistakes.
By being prepared for this type of interview question, you can demonstrate to employers that you can handle a wide range of situations.
Past work-related mistakes are a typical job interview topic. One question about past mistakes that the interviewer may ask is, “What have you learned from your mistakes?”
“Tell me about a bit of your professional failure,” for example.
While the subject may make you uneasy, it is critical to know how to respond to a job interview question about mistakes.
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Why do employers ask this question?
Employers will ask you this question to see how you deal with difficult situations. Owning your mistakes shows integrity and also shows your understanding regarding failure at times during your career.
The key to answering this interview question is to demonstrate to the interviewer that you learned from your mistake. This common interview question reveals to employers your potential weaknesses also, how you plan to overcome them.
How to respond to the question?
While this is a question bound to arise in a variety of industries and situations, the way the answer is handled will differ.
Follow the following steps to respond to this question:
1. Contour your mistake.
Begin your response by explaining your error.
Instead of attempting to shift the blame, accept responsibility for your actions. Choose a mistake that you were able to fix.
It is preferable to discuss minor mistakes rather than major ones.
Concentrate on work-related mistakes rather than personal situations. Similarly, choose a situational error over one that suggests a flaw in your character.
2. Explain your actions
Describe how you fixed your mistakes. Make it clear that you were capable of taking action in this situation.
The purpose of this interview question is to see how you handle mistakes, so emphasize your problem-solving skills. Also, make it clear that you accepted responsibility for your error and admitted it.
3. Highlight positive outcomes
Concentrate on the outcomes of what you did to correct the error.
Demonstrate to the employer that you are competent in handling any situation, especially if you are at fault. Concentrate on the positive aspects of the problem. Explain that everything worked out in the end.
4. Talk about what you learned
You can centre your response on the lessons you learned.
Concentrate on what you’ve learned and how you’ve applied it to other situations. Explain that you’ve learned how to avoid making similar mistakes in the future and that you’ve become more cautious.
Demonstrate how this blunder aided your professional development.
Sample answer for the question
Here are a few helpful answers to this question.
1. When to ask for help is one thing I’ve learned from past mistakes.
I’ve learned that it’s far better to ask for clarification and solve a problem right away rather than unsure.
I understand that your company values teamwork and the importance of constant communication. I believe that my ability to ask (and answer) questions of my peers would help me fit in very well with your company culture.
2. I was in charge of proofreading the publication’s monthly magazine. While I was pretty efficient at finding mistakes, one time, I missed that the page numbers were all one page off.
I didn’t realize we’d made a mistake until we’d already sent the files to the printer. I was concerned about this minor detail because the numbers wouldn’t line up with our table of contents.
While the graphic designer was to blame for the design error, I accepted full responsibility for not catching her mistake.
I immediately contacted the printer after noticing this error.
To my relief, they were behind schedule and hadn’t begun printing our pages yet.
I was so relieved, and there was such a quick resolution.
I had the graphic designer correct the error and then asked a few of my coworkers to double-check that everything looked correct.
We had it returned to the printer within hours and had our perfect copies printed on time.
The mistake taught me not to ignore minor details. Even if something is almost always correct, I make it a point to edit it thoroughly.
I make sure that there are no errors, including formatting errors, to make a publication appear credible.”
3. When I first served as an assistant manager of a sales branch, I tried to do as much as myself, from running the department daily to making all of the big sales calls.
I quickly discovered that the best managers understand how to delegate effectively so that work is completed efficiently.
Since then, I’ve received numerous awards for my management abilities, and I believe a large part of that is my ability to delegate effectively.
My team well received these changes. Some even admitted that they didn’t have enough work and were excited to be busier. I finally had the time to focus on the rest of my projects after giving them this work. I ended up producing higher-quality work, and my team members were able to advance in their roles. The whole experience taught me that it’s okay to ask for assistance and that while I can do a lot, I can’t do it all.
I’m the type of person who attempts to learn and grow from every misstep.
Years ago, when a team I was working on failed to close a sale, we were told that it was due in part to our ineffective visuals.
I spent much of my free time over the next six months learning how to use various software programs to create appealing visual presentations.
Since then, I’ve received numerous compliments on my visuals in meetings and sales pitches.
Tips for Providing the Best Response
Understand your target audience.
You’ll almost certainly be asked an interview question about a past mistake or failure, so go into each interview prepared with an example of an error in mind.
Before the interview, go over the job description and recall a mistake you’ve made in the past that isn’t too closely related to the job’s requirements.
Spin the mistake
Consider carefully how you will spin the mistake in a positive light.
What did you learn from your mistake, and how will it help you be a good fit for this position?
Examine common interview questions and sample answers.
Not all interview questions will be about past mistakes you’ve made, but there will be more questions about you, like “Are you easy to talk to? Your interviewer will also expect you to have questions about the job, the company, or the culture for him or her to answer.
What to Avoid Saying
1. Your boss is not good
If your previous employer’s boss was the reason you left, do not bring it up in a new job interview.
Because candidates who criticize their bosses are frequently dismissed by employers, as a result, consider the following advice:
The focus of my group’s work shifted, and while I liked the new plan, it was not in line with my preferences.
As a result, I decided to resign from my job to pursue a more suitable position that would allow me to demonstrate my skills.
2. You want to earn more money
This is a familiar reason people change jobs, but you should not answer questions about pay during the interview.
When responding, you should direct your attention to why your job is related to the career, as shown in the example below.
During my time at the previous company, I had numerous opportunities to improve my working skills and learn new ones.
However, I want my knowledge and abilities to be maximized and valued.
3. You’ve lost interest in the position
Describing the negative aspects of your previous job is one of the things you should not say in a new job interview.
When asked why you left your previous job, you should give a reason so that the employer can see how ambitious you are and how serious you are about your career.
I’ve been at this job for three years and know everything there is to know about it.
When I happened to see the company’s job advertisement, I realized that this position was ideal for me, as it would provide me with more opportunities to grow.
Things to avoid when answering the question?
Do not whine or slander the company, boss, or former coworkers.
This gives employers a negative impression of you because they believe you will speak negatively about the new company in the future.
Employers will be suspicious of your loyalty to the company if you complain about being late.
Do not respond with a general reason such as ‘personal matters.’
Employers will be dissatisfied with that response.