Failure is a part of life. Everyone has to deal with failure at some point and how you deal with it becomes a testament to your character. Therefore, interviewers will often ask you about how you will deal with failure while working for them.
Reaction to adversity
The question isn’t supposed to probe how you will actually react in a real-life scenario when confronted with failure. The interviewer is trying to gauge your reaction to adversity and whether you will be able to overcome it. Your answer will also reveal your willingness to deal with conflict. As no one would like to discuss their shortcomings and weaknesses with a stranger, your response will give the interviewer an idea of how you would navigate different challenges.
Interviewers are interested in finding out how you will maintain your attitude, composure and focus when things aren’t going your way. They want to see if you are able to accept your failings, whether you are willing to learn from your mistakes and move on. Talking about your successes is very easy, so discussing your failures is when you will be tested. Thankfully, there are ways to answer this question without making it look like you won’t be able to handle the job.
Approach towards answering the failure questions
The best approach towards answering this question is to identify a few scenarios where you came up short in your previous employment, took accountability, and learned from your mistakes. Such an honest answer will satisfy the interviewer while assuring him that you are willing to improve and learn on the job. It would be best to mention failures that did not occur in the recent past as you don’t want the interviewer questioning your capabilities. Be prepared to go into detail on how you improved yourself after that failure and mention subsequent successes that you were able to achieve afterwards.
Some Possible Responses to the Question –
Here are some ways you can answer the question about failure and impress your interviewer in the process:
1. I believe in the maxim that nobody is perfect. If I commit some mistakes, I am comfortable taking accountability for my actions. My main focus would be to figure out how I could have dealt with the situation differently so that I avoid similar issues in the future.
Explanation: This answer reveals that you are not only willing to accept your failures but that you will also take responsibility and fix the damage caused. Be prepared with a specific example to answer the follow-up question.
2. I will ask my colleagues and acquaintances in similar jobs for suggestions to improve my performance at work. I will aggressively attend training seminars, workshops and tutorials so that I am prepared for every kind of situation.
Explanation: It’s always a good idea to focus on the positives in interviews. This response shows that you are willing to accept that you need improvement and will take the proper measures to develop your skills.
3. Tell a detailed story about a failure that you experienced at work in the past. Mention the lessons you learned from that experience and the steps you took to ensure that a similar mistake doesn’t happen again in the future.
Explanation: This response will let your interviewer know that you are experienced and capable of handling yourself when confronted with failure. It will also show him that you are willing to learn on the job.
It is important to answer the question honestly since the interviewer would be experienced enough to detect a stock response. But while answering the question honestly, keep in mind the points we discussed above to get the best result. Good Luck!