Do you have an upcoming job interview? Check out my example answer to the interview question: “Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake?” OR “Can you describe your biggest work failure?“
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For job seekers WITH NO EXPERIENCE
“One thing that I’ve learned from the many group-related projects is to contribute to effective and constant communication with one another. For example, during my first year at university a team member wasn’t pulling their weight and my thought process was like: ”He’s lazy”, “His part doesn’t make any sense” or “I’d rather do everything myself”, while a simple rephrase and assertive communication could turn these negative statements to something more productive and positive.
I should have used my ability to ask and answer questions like: “You don’t seem to be contributing to the group, is there a problem?” or “I don’t agree with this part of your work because […]” followed by a clear explanation on how he could improve it. Nowadays, I check up on the wellbeing of a slacking team member and define a “mistake” as a “learning experience” because that will ultimately lead to an increased competency in the workplace.”
For job seekers WITH EXPERIENCE
“Sure, so when I first became a [Job Title], I was eager to make a good impression. However, I ended up taking on more work than I could manage. From compiling and distributing statistical data to executing marketing campaigns, while I actually was solely responsible for running my first ever digital marketing event.
Upon talking to my marketing manager, he made me realize that I needed to prioritize and delegate more work to my colleagues. I have since applied this new learning to all of my marketing activities and use Todoist, Notion and Google Calendar to improve my workflow and get things done. This experience also taught me that it’s okay to say ‘no’, delegate or ask for assistance.”
√ Do share an experience that reveals a one-time mistake only
√ Do briefly explain what the mistake was and immediately switch over to what you’ve learned or improved on.
√ Elaborate on the steps you take to avoid similar mistakes.
√ Do use the CARL framework of reflection to structure your answer
X Don’t blame a previous colleague, teammate or employer
X Don’t dwell on your mistake or end the answer in a negative way