The definition of failure is different for everyone based on the different aspects of their life. A failure in one’s academic side cannot be termed as a failure in their workplace. It may seem difficult to discuss your failure, but the question is just as relevant in an interview as “what is your success?”.
The interviewer asks the question, “what does failure mean to you?” The employer can understand whether you grow through failure or flounder in the face of challenges. They want to learn how you would maintain your composure, attitude, and focus when you hit a bump.
It might be challenging to discuss one’s setbacks to a potential employer, but it is an unavoidable question in an interview. The best way to tackle this question is to identify some scenarios from the past that you took responsibility for. Mention an incident or setback in your previous job where you took accountability for the failure, learned from it, and took steps to avoid recurrences of a similar incident. It is also safer to mention incidents that weren’t very recent and those don’t affect your ability and liability to do the job.
Some short answer examples for the question can be like “I think to fail at something is making a mistake and not learning from it.”, or “I think failure is not reaching your full potential even with an abundance of resources around you. That’s a failure because you had chances of doing the work better”.
How to prepare your answer?
These short answers can be elaborated by catering to the story related to it. You need to prepare your answers beforehand and the following tips can help you with the preparation.
- Introspect about your answer
We all make mistakes in life and tend to keep our failures within ourselves. So when you're put on the spot to tell about your failure, choose a story that enables you to highlight your key features that are relevant to the position you are applying to. When you are choosing your answer, stay away from examples that have the possibility of jeopardizing your potential position. Focus on stories that portray you as a self-aware person who is willing to learn from their mistakes.
- Practice your answer
Practicing your answer will always prepare you for any surprise elements. It reduces the chance of being caught abruptly with the question. An excellent method to practice your answer is by roleplaying. With the help of your friends or family, you can sit down just like an interview and go through the questions. This way, you can encounter a number of follow-up questions and avoid focusing on the negative aspect of your setbacks.
- Get honest feedback
You may not be able to fully correct your answer because you may not see the slightest shortcomings in your answer objectively. To get an opinion and criticism of your shortcomings and failure, it is best to get a colleague or friend to give honest feedback. Look for someone who can empathize with your situation and give an unadulterated output about it. This will help you bring a clearer perspective on the event and highlight the key features while discussing it with the interviewer. This will give you an insight into the conversation which will help you with the interview.
Failure is not something you can avoid or foresee. You can only prepare yourself for the slight turbulence and rise above the clouds. You should always learn from your mistakes, if not, that is your failure. See so that you do not give a negative impression to the employer about your setback. Learn to successfully inspire and positively enhance your performance with the assistance of Performance Management. Considering yourself incompatible and inadequate can be a downer in an interview. Own the failure you have made in the past and make it your stepping stone to success.
Daljeet Kaur Lal
Daljeet Kaur Lal
Daljeet Kaur Lal is an HR Trainer who has extensive work experience of over 11 years. She is now working with Edoxi Training Institute, Dubai. She develops and executes various HR training programs to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge to meet the organization's objectives.
She is passionate about learning new things. She enjoys spending her free time reading favourite books and listening to all-time favourite melodies in English and Hindi. She is also keenly involved in Adventurous activities and loves to travel a lot.