Interview Tip #29

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Ever been asked, “Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake?” in an interview?

Seems like a tricky question. How do you answer it?

First, dispel the bullshit. Perfection is impossible. Your interviewer knows that. The panel of interviewers knows this. So the fact that you’ve made a mistake in the past isn’t going to knock you out of consideration for this job.

Second, interviewers want to know if you take responsibility for your mistake. They want to know about what you learned. They need to understand your commitment to improvement.

It’s easy to “be perfect” when talking about your achievements, but your interviewer wants to know how you’ll react when things don’t go as planned. And let’s face it, life and our careers are how we show up when things go awry.

Your answer tells them:

✌️How you handle challenges

✌️How self-aware you are

✌️How well you acknowledge and admit your errors

✌️How you learn from mistakes and mitigate them going forward

So how do you answer this question? Choose a mistake that reflects your ability to own your errors, take in feedback, create an improvement plan, problem-solve, and share lessons learned. Go deep on it.

Some of those mistakes could be:

😔Miscommunications

😔Misunderstandings

😔Lack of attention to detail

😔Situations where you were reactive instead of proactive

😔Errors on work products you submitted

😔Missed deadlines

😔Productivity issues

😔Conflicts, disagreements, or coordination issues when working with others

😔Fumbled presentations

😔Knowledge or skill gaps

Before you get to the mistake, give your interviewer all the context they’ll need to understand your mistake and why it was a mistake. But don’t feel the need to add in any extra details. Briefly lay out what the overall goal was for your project, team, or company, and talk about what your tasks and responsibilities were.

Tell your interviewer what mistake you made. Be direct about your mistake and what led up to it. Don’t get defensive, blame anyone else, or use passive language.

TL;DR: Take ownership.

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Brian Fink

Brian Fink

Executive Recruiter. ✈ #ATL ↔ #SF ✈ Building companies is my favorite. Opinions are my own. Responsibility is freedom. 🖖