Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tell Me About When You Screwed Up

Okay--you are unlikely to get the question with this exact language in an interview, unless (a) it's a really laid back office, or (b) it's the kind of place you really don't want to work. (Or perhaps both.)

But a good interviewer is going to probe for weaknesses, as well as strengths. He or she wants to know what you're made of. And it's up to you, as the interviewee, to turn a negative into a positive. And that doesn't mean shoving your mistakes under a rug.

Say you're asked about a time you handled a difficult customer--the supposition behind today's link. If you're not in customer service, you may get asked about a time when you

  • made a mistake
  • did something you weren't proud of
  • got in trouble with the boss

The answer that will WOW an interviewer includes an honest, real-life moment when you weren't at your best, and a follow-through description of what you did to make the situation right. 

Avoid these temptations: telling about a time when you

  • used the wrong paperclip (inconsequential goof)
  • did nothing and simply took the consequences (you learned nothing, did nothing to right the wrong)
  • created a horrible mess (you can think of no "up-side" to the situation)
Have one or two of these kinds of events tucked into your mental repertoire of interview questions you're prepared to answer. You will be asked.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to Sarah Greesonbach and Simply Hired!

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