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How to Answer Interview Questions - Q39

Job Interview Question

Tell me about a time when you failed.

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

Table of Contents

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q1 -- Are you overqualified for this job?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q2 -- Are you willing to relocate?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q3 -- Describe a time when your work was criticized and how you handled it.
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q4 -- Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q5 -- Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q6 -- Describe your work style.
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q7 -- Describe yourself to me in one word.
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q8 -- Do you prefer working in a team or alone?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q9 -- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q10 -- Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q11 -- Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q12 -- Have you ever had difficulty working with a supervisor/manager?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q13 -- How can you apply your specific skills to help the organization achieve sustainable growth and generate revenues?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q14 -- How to Answer Interview Questions - Q2 -- How did you deal with the situation the last time your boss chastised you or strongly or disagreed with a statement, a plan or a decision you made?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q15 -- How do I know that you still have the “fire in the belly” to do this job?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q16 -- How do you deal with difficult customers?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q17 -- How do you deal with stressful situations?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q18 -- How do you evaluate success?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q19 -- How do you handle stress and pressure?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q20 -- How do you rate yourself as a professional?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q21 -- How does this position fit in with the career path you envision for yourself?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q22 -- How have you responded to a colleague who is putting you down at work?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q23 -- How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q24 -- How long would you plan to stay with us?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q25 -- How much did / do you make?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q26 -- How was your working relationship with your previous supervisor?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q27 -- How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q28 -- How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q29 -- I noticed that you are applying for a position that is not as senior as you past positions. Why would you consider a job that is, in effect, a demotion for you?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q30 -- If we hire you, what will we know about you a year down the road?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q31 -- If you could be any animal which one would you be and why?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q32 -- If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q33 -- If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q34 -- If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q35 -- Is there anything I haven’t told you about the company that you would like to know?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q36 -- Situational Response Question:  An airplane landed in the parking lot. What would you do?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q37 -- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss about a way that something should be done. How did you handle that?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q38 -- Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation with a co-worker.
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q39 -- Tell me about a time when you failed.
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q40 -- Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q41 -- Tell me about yourself.
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q42 -- Tell me your life story (more of your personal history).
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q43 -- Tell us about a failed project.
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q44 -- Tell us about a time that you went against corporate directives. Why? How did it turn out?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q45 -- There's no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q46 -- We are looking for someone with experience…or, You don’t have enough experience—why should we hire you?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q47 -- What are some of your greatest and/or proudest accomplishments?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q48 -- What are your advantages and DISADVANTAGES?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q49 -- What are your hobbies?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q50 -- What are your least favorite things to do in your role as a XXXX?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q51 -- What are your pet peeves?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q52 -- What are your salary expectations?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q53 -- What are your workplace values?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q54 -- What did you earn at your last job?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q55 -- What did you like or dislike about your previous jobs? 
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q56 -- What do people most often criticize about you?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q57 -- What do you consider your most significant accomplishment?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q58 -- What do you expect from a supervisor?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q59 -- What do you know about this company?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q60 -- What do you wish you’d done better?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q61 -- What excites you and scares you about this position?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q62 -- What have you been doing since you got laid off?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q63 -- What have you learned from your mistakes?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q64 -- What is good customer service?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q65 -- What is your greatest weakness?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q66 -- What is your ideal job?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q67 -- What is your least favorite managerial task?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q68 -- What kind of money would you be interested in making?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q69 -- What makes you unique? 
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q70 -- What motivates you?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q71 -- What questions do you have for us?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q72 -- What salary are you looking for?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q73 -- What type of work environment do you prefer?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q74 -- What was the last book you read?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q75 -- What was your least favorite part of your last job?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q76 -- What was your most difficult work experience and how did you deal with it?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q77 -- What were the major challenges of your last job and how did you handle them?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q78 -- What were your responsibilities in your last job?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q79 -- What will you contribute to this job?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q80 -- What will you do if you don’t get this position?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q81 -- What would you do first at this job?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q82 -- What would your friends tell me about you?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q83 -- What would your line manager say was the area you needed most development in?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q84 -- What you can do to make this company better?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q85 -- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q86 -- Who was your best boss and who was your worst?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q87 -- Why are you looking to leave your current job?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q88 -- Why did you freelance for so long?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q89 -- Why did you leave your last position?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q90 -- Why did you take a job that seems to be outside of your career path?

  1. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q91 -- Why do you believe you are the best fit for this position?
  2. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q92 -- Why do you have a big gap in your employment history?
  3. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q93 -- Why do you think you can manage a team without any prior managerial experience?
  4. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q94 -- Why do you want to join this company?
  5. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q95 -- Why do you want to switch from an academic field to business/industry?
  6. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q96 -- Why do you want to work for someone else after owning your own business / freelancing?
  7. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q97 -- Why have you been out of work for so long?
  8. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q98 -- Why have you changed jobs so frequently over the past X years?
  9. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q99 -- Why haven't you been promoted?
  10. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q100 -- Why should we give you the job over the other candidates?  (Why should I hire you instead of someone else?)
  11. How to Answer Interview Questions - Q101 -- Why would you accept a lesser salary than what you made before?  (Won’t you jump ship when a better offer comes along?)

Click to expand question sets, then click individual questions to read the post.

The key to answering the failure question is that you can’t say you’ve never failed.  I know you probably really want to, because you don’t want to be seen in a bad light.  But you can’t.  And it’s OK.

Everybody fails.  If you’ve never failed, it means you’ve never taken a risk (which means you probably haven’t made much progress, either) or you’ve never made a big mistake (which is impossible). 

I’ve failed lots of times in my career.  What’s important is that I learn from my failures and I don’t make the same mistakes again.  And that’s what’s important for you, too. 

This is not like the weakness question.  A weakness is a flaw in yourself that could affect your work in the future.  A failure is a temporary event that doesn’t have to happen again, if you are humble enough to learn a lesson from it.

So first, you have to choose a failure, and second, you have to be able to articulate something you’ve learned from the mistake so you can transform it into a turnaround story with a happy ending.  Everybody loves comeback stories, right?

As in:  “Once I failed by missing a deadline for a project, but I reacted to that by taking a course to learn my Outlook program in greater detail so that I could use it to keep myself organized and always on time.  I’ve been much more productive since then, so I’m actually kind of glad that happened because I learned a lot from it and I am providing a greater benefit to my organization.”

Or, you could say:  “I am naturally optimistic, which is a great thing for my attitude and my ability to work with people, but once it caused me to overlook a possibility for a problem with my project that turned into an actual problem.  I learned from that that I can be optimistic, but I should always have a contingency plan in place.  And I do.  And actually, it allows me even more peace of mind because I know that I’ve always got a Plan B, just in case.”

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 How to Answer Interview Questions? 


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Do you see?  You admit the failure, tell what you learned from it and what action you took to correct it or avoid it going forward, and show why it has made improvements in you and your work. And always bring it back to your selling points so you can continue to be strategic in your interview answers.

Someone who’s not afraid to admit they made a mistake and is obviously interested in improving themselves and their performance is always going to be attractive to an employer.

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