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Give Me an Idea of How You Deal With Failure

When it's time to go to a job interview- you may feel unsure about being able to give great answers. Knowing what to expect can help ease your uncertainty. With many job interview sessions- hiring managers may ask two different kinds of questions: standard interview questions and behavioral interview questions. While the standard questions are often designed to get information related to your resume- behavior questions are used to get a sense of your thought process and ability to make decisions. One common behavioral question may be 'Give me an idea of how you deal with failure.'

This kind of behavioral question is asked to get an idea of whether or not you have learned from your mistakes and to evaluate if you take appropriate risks. It may also be worded as 'Tell me about your biggest failure' or 'Explain what you've learned from a big mistake.' Answering this type of question requires a bit of finesse- as you want to be honest and address past mistakes- but you don't want to go into too much detail and make yourself appear incompetent.

Your best approach is to be prepared for this common interview question. You can do that by practicing answering this question with a family member or friend- or even by yourself. One popular way to frame your response to any type of behavioral question such as this one is to use the STAR system.

How to Answer the 'Give Me an Idea of How You Deal With Failure' Behavioral Interview Question

Don't Indicate You're Perfect. One of the biggest mistakes a job candidate may make with this question is responding that he or she has never failed before. A hiring manager may think you are lying or that you're clueless if you answer this way. Some people answer this way because they are afraid to talk about something that may have a negative aspect to it. Interviewers may count you out if you present yourself as faultless- so it's best to answer honestly and admit when you've done something wrong. You can turn a negative experience into something positive if you answer in a strategic way.

Be Careful With Your Example. When a hiring manager asks about your failures- you need to be very choosy about the situation you use for your answer. Failures that involve illegal activity- moral dilemmas or other touchy subjects are not the best examples to refer to for this type of question. You also don't want to choose an example of a failure that is insignificant. A mistake that you made that didn't affect anything isn't really a good story to share.

Show off Your Ability to Adapt. Employers are looking for individuals who demonstrate resiliency- so be sure to explain how your mistake led you to learn something valuable. Give details about how you were able to gain something new by adapting to conditions after a rookie mistake made in your career. This can show a hiring manager that you're willing to take ownership of a failure and adjust so that you don't make the same mistake again. It can also help give you a better chance of getting chosen for the job.

Develop an Answer With the STAR System. Another top way of answering behavioral interview questions involves the popular STAR system. This system makes it easy to respond with a clear and winning answer. This is what you should do:

  • S – The first part of this system involves the situation. Describe the situation before you made the mistake.
  • T – Next, give information about the specific task you were trying to complete. Explain what part of that task became a problem.
  • A – The third step relates to your actions. Give information about the next things you did in order to deal with your mistake.
  • R – Lastly, tell the hiring manager what resulted from your failure. It's a good idea to end your answer with what you learned from the experience.

Sample 'Give Me an Idea of How You Deal With Failure' STAR Interview Answer

During my first year of teaching, my classroom management strategy failed. As a new teacher, I was focused more on lesson plans and didn't invest in discipline. I had more problems than I anticipated with students misbehaving. At the end of that school year, I was determined to make drastic changes. I spent my summer researching discipline management theories and settled on a philosophy I agreed with. Then, I made an effective and clear classroom rule guide for the students my second year of teaching. When the new class came in, I taught procedures and class rules the first few days of school. Setting up my behavior plan in the beginning of the year was an effective strategy that made things much smoother from then on. I learned that classroom management is essential for any teacher.

Answering behavioral interview questions can be much more manageable if you learn about their purpose and prepare for them. Doing so puts your interview on the path to success and helps you land that coveted job.

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