There are a number of commonly asked interview questions that candidates come across during their job search. Some are easier to answer than others, but each one asks for thoughtful consideration on your part prior to giving an answer. One of the big questions an employer is bound to ask you sooner or later is how you dealt with and learned from failures. Today’s article discusses how you can show your interviewer how you learned and grew from your failures, and how that better prepares you for the job you are applying for.

Why Employers Ask the Question

In order to understand how best to answer questions regarding past failures, it’s helpful to understand where an interviewer is coming from and what they are hoping to learn from your response. The fact is that everyone experiences failure at some time or another. Employers recognize this and even actively seek out candidates who have dealt with disappointment over applicants who are unable to admit to any failings.

The real point behind the question is to give you the opportunity to discuss your thought process behind why something failed and how you learned from the experience. Success in the workforce is as much about recognizing and correcting errors as it is avoiding them. They want to see how you have been able to maintain a positive and progressive attitude through the tough times and how you have overcome obstacles or setbacks in your career. They want to know whether you are the type of person who learns from failure and even whether you are capable of taking smart risks.

How Best to Answer the Question

In your preparation for an upcoming interview, it’s a good idea to prepare an example of a failure ahead of time. Take the opportunity to highlight your flexibility and willingness to learn from a bad situation. Pick a failure (a real one as made-up ones are easily called out) from your past and describe it in such a way that is truthful but doesn’t raise any red flags about potential character flaws or serious errors in judgment. Then focus on what you learned from the situation and how you have prepared yourself to avoid such failures in the future.

Problem solving is a key skill many employers are actively seeking in their candidates. By describing how you bounced back from a significant professional failure, you are showing that you have not had it easy your entire career. You show that you have grit and the tenacity to succeed in the real-world. Focus on key skills such as adaptability, quality control, team work and communication to describe how the situation actually made you stronger in the end. Accept responsibility for any errors or mistakes on your part and focus on how you helped your team or company move forward to greater successes in the future.

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