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Tell me about when something you did didn't work

 

Disciplines > Job-finding > Interview questions > Tell me about when something you did didn't work

The question | What they are looking for | How to answer | See also

 

The question

Tell me about when something you did didn't work

Have you ever done something that did not work?

When

What they are looking for

With this question they may be looking for the limits to your ability, but they are more likely to be interested in how you handled the situation.

Failure for many is something to deny or avoid. Relatively few people can learn effectively from things that did not work as expected.

They may also be interested in how you explain why things went wrong, how you attribute the failure.

How to answer

Do not say that things have always worked for you, but also find something that shows a serious flaw. Pick something that is sufficiently significant but also sufficiently harmless.

When I was working on a new customer account I tried using a new software tracking system that didn't really work.

Tell what went wrong relatively quickly. Do not spend time explaining what led up to the problem and avoid playing blame games. Put more effort into showing what you did as a result. How you cleared up after you and how you learned from the experience.

As soon as I realized that we were losing data, I called in the supplier who repaired the system. We had to work overtime to recover the situation. I made sure we took more frequent backups after that.

See also

Attribution Theory

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