Job Interview Question

What do you wish you’d done better?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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When you are asked this question in job interview, please be aware that they are referring to your career, not your life.  You could say that you wish you’d hired someone to tile your floor instead of doing it yourself, or that you wish you’d planned your vacation better, or you wish you’d studied more before your SATs, but those answers won’t satisfy your interviewer.  This is a tough job interview question.

What would you do differently in your career?  What do you wish you’d done better?  This question is a behavioral interview-style way to find out “what’s your greatest weakness?”  It’s also closely-related to “What’s your biggest failure?”  Hiring managers know that we’re onto that question the way it’s normally asked, so they just ask it a different way.  But with this question, you must have a story to tell.

Asking this question also is a way for them to find out about how you deal with adversity and difficult situations.  They want to know that you are mature and that you can learn from your mistakes.  It’s a peek into your thought process.  What they’re hoping you’ll be able to do is communicate a story or situation (what happened), say what you wish you’d done better, and then provide an example of when you did do it better.  Because that’s the ideal kind of employee—one who learns from their mistakes.

Even if you’re telling them a real story about a real mistake, the best advice is to try to give them what they want to hear without choosing something that would directly affect your performance at this job.  Nobody wants to hire an accountant who had organizational problems at her last job.   Nobody wants to hire a sales rep who had an issue with a co-worker that you couldn’t work out—because that shows an issue with interpersonal and communication skills, a fatal flaw for sales reps.  So try to talk about a real mistake that you learned something significant from that would never affect your performance at this job.

For instance, that accountant might say, “It’s always easier to look back to find room for improvement, isn’t it?  Once, I was having a disagreement with a co-worker on a project, so I went to my supervisor to try to figure out what I was doing wrong and get to a solution.  My intentions were sincere, but the result was that it angered my co-worker because she thought I was trying to get her into trouble.  I have learned since then that direct communication is always best, and I am very conscious about those co-worker relationships.  It actually was a good experience because I am a much better communicator and team player now.”

Now you’re an accountant who’s also got good communication skills and can be a team player.  You’ve turned a negative into a positive. That’s good job interview strategy.


If you’d like to practice your interview answers with professional feedback, or you need help with specific answers, I’d love to work with you as your interview coach.

Find out more about my special offer for personal 1:1 coaching or my group coaching membership that meets online Thursday evenings at 7:00pm CST!


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