“What is your greatest failure?”
The dreaded question; this one is even touchier than the weaknesses question because you have to admit a failure, not just a weakness.
Tips to Answer this Interview Question:
This one requires you to prepare an example ahead of time. It should be work-related, but you can discuss a personal experience if it is closely related to a work-like event.
The key here is in the presentation of the failure example. You do not want to come off as a victim. Do not blame others for the fact that something didn’t work. You must take ownership of the situation. Employers use this question to see how you deal with adversity. Do you take responsibility for your decisions or blame the world for what went wrong? This is especially important since you most likely don’t know about the inner workings and politics of the firm at this point. Always take the high road, even if your former company made decisions that derailed your project.
An example of a personal failure: “I didn’t graduate from college, I didn’t have the money to go. I haven’t let it hold me back though. I am constantly learning new things and I’m a student of self-study. It is very important to me to keep current with changes in the insurance industry and I’m currently working on my insurance designations.”
An example of a work-related failure: “I wanted to reorganize the work flow in my department to give us greater compliance and more detailed analytics. In short, my solution did not work. Work flow bogged down, my team didn’t like the increased data entry, we started to lose employees, and moral was at an all-time low. I ended up asking my team for ideas to put us back on track, and together we figured out how to improve work flow and our overall quality improved as a result. Now I make sure that I get department consensus before making sweeping changes to any type of work flow.”
Remember, some of the best successes in the work place start out as huge failures. Make sure you show the employer how your failures guide your decision-making today.