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How To Answer: “Can You Tell Me About A Time You Experienced Failure?”

Think back to a time you have failed… now do you want to admit this in an interview? No matter how great or small, you’ll most likely need to prepare an example of a time you failed. The ability to do so shows character, strength and a capability to overcome any hurdles. Failure is a part of life but it’s how you learn to deal with it that will really help you grow as a person.

Here are 3 stages on how to answer this popular interview question:

What happened?

Now, the interviewer doesn’t want to hear how you never consider anything a failure and you’ve never failed at anything because that’s all too cliche and impersonal. Instead, mention an example such as a project at work that didn’t work the first time around or a life event such as you attempted to run the marathon but were unable to complete it are all worthwhile examples. Because it’s not necessarily the failure that the interviewer is interested in hearing about but rather how you dealt with it and what happened after it occurred.

Why do you consider this a failure?

It’s important to explain how you felt about your failure and why you consider it to be one. Give the interviewer an insight into how you dealt with the situation and explain your rationale about the experience. You may have worked really hard on something and spent a lot of time doing so, therefore the disappointment you felt when it didn’t work out as planned was difficult. Considering something a failure is completely personal, so no matter what you say (there’s no wrong or right fail!) let the interviewer understand your experience.

How did you overcome the failure?

Hopefully, you learned something from your failure and it made you do things slightly different when attempting similar tasks in the future. Which is particularly relevant if your example is work-related. For example, if in a previous role you worked alongside other employees to complete a mutual project but something didn’t work out as planned and the project did not meet your manager’s expectations.

You could then express how this failure made you re-evaluate your role within a group and decide what additional skills you need to bring to the table to ensure the next project is a success.

So, there you have our top three tips on how to answer this popular interview question! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs

Read our latest blog: Do you tell the interviewer you’ve had other interviews?

One Comment

  1. Imogen McGowan

    This is the type of question that can make any job-seeker nervous but breaking it down and understanding why the recruiter is asking the question is the first step in giving a detailed answer with a specific and relevant example.

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