“Tell us your greatest failure and what you learned from that failure” is a common interview question and one that catches a lot of people off guard.
That’s because on our resume and in interviews we focus only on the positives—those skills, successes and accomplishments that show off our best side.
But what about your failures? Haven’t they played a significant role to getting you to where you are now?
If you are like most people, you keep them hidden because they tend to be a source of embarrassment.
Yet failures are an excellent source of learning and growth. So why not try writing a failure resume?
(No worries. You don’t need to send it to employers. It’s for personal use only.)
Make a copy of your regular resume and go through it, section by section, listing those things that didn’t work out the way you had hoped, or things that did not have a favourable result.
Under Education, perhaps you:
– Applied but did not get into the school you wanted.
– Failed a course that prevented you from making the Dean’s list.
– Bombed a class presentation because you didn’t prepare properly.
Under Work Experience, perhaps you:
– Got fired once because you didn’t manage the relationship with your boss well.
– Lost a big sale because you didn’t return telephone calls on a timely basis.
– Missed out on a great job opportunity because you blew the interview.
If you’re like most people, this will be an uncomfortable exercise. But instead of spending time on how you feel, step back and analyze what went wrong. Did you read a situation incorrectly? Did you not prepare fully? Were you avoiding conflict? Were you too arrogant?
Then ask yourself: “If I had the chance to do things over again, what would I do differently?”
The learning lies in your answers.
Hopefully, you’ve had more successes than failures in your life. But seek to understand your failures and why they happened. You’ll be presented with a great opportunity to grow and advance your career.