Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe a situation where things didn’t go as planned, and how you dealt with it?
- Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What happened, and how did you handle it?
- How do you handle setbacks in your work? Can you provide an example?
- Describe a situation where you received negative feedback from a supervisor or coworker. How did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change at work. How did you cope with it?
- Have you ever faced a difficult decision at work? Can you describe the situation and how you resolved it?
- Describe a time when you disagreed with a team member or a manager. How did you handle the disagreement?
- Can you provide an example of when you had to make a tough decision with limited information? How did you approach it?
- Tell me about a time when you took a risk at work, and it didn’t turn out as expected. What happened, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Describe a project or task where you faced unexpected obstacles. How did you overcome them?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
The interview question “Tell me about a time you made a mistake” serves as an excellent example of a question that addresses one or more of the three points mentioned above.
1 – Can you do the job? When you discuss a mistake you made, you have the opportunity to showcase how you’ve learned from that experience and how it has ultimately improved your skills or expertise. Your ability to recognize and admit to a mistake demonstrates self-awareness and a willingness to grow, which are essential qualities for any professional.
2 – Will you do the job? The way you handle mistakes is an indication of your drive and motivation to get the job done. By sharing how you took responsibility for your mistake and the steps you took to correct it, you show the interviewer that you are committed to achieving results and overcoming challenges. This response also highlights your problem-solving skills and determination to succeed in your role.
3 – Will you fit in? Your approach to addressing mistakes can reveal a lot about your personality and how you might fit into the workplace culture. Are you open and honest about your errors? Do you communicate effectively with your team to resolve issues? Can you maintain a positive attitude despite setbacks? These traits are critical in fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. By providing a thoughtful answer to this question, you can demonstrate that you are a team player who is adaptable and able to learn from past experiences.
How Best To Answer ‘Tell me about a time you made a mistake’
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Let’s apply the B-STAR technique to the interview question, “Tell me about a time you made a mistake” and relate each stage back to the question.
B – Belief: Share your thoughts and feelings about making mistakes and learning from them. For example, you might believe that making mistakes is a natural part of personal and professional growth, and it’s crucial to acknowledge, learn, and improve from these experiences.
S – Situation: Briefly describe the context in which you made a mistake. This could be a project you were working on, a decision you made, or an interaction with a coworker. Remember to keep the situation easy to understand and focus on setting the stage for your role in the scenario. For example: “I was leading a team responsible for implementing a new software system for our company.”
T – Task: Explain your role and responsibilities within the situation. Emphasize your active involvement in addressing the mistake and the steps you took to rectify it. For example: “My task was to coordinate the team’s efforts, manage the timeline, and ensure a smooth transition to the new system.”
A – Activity (or action): Detail the actions you took after realizing the mistake, explaining your reasoning for each step. This part should be the most extensive portion of your answer, as it demonstrates your problem-solving skills and ability to learn from mistakes. For example: “When I realized I had overlooked a critical feature, I immediately informed my team and stakeholders. I took responsibility for the oversight, and we quickly assessed the situation and developed a plan to incorporate the missing feature. I also conducted a thorough review of our processes to prevent similar mistakes in the future.”
R – Result: Explain the outcome of your actions, using quantifiable results if possible. This helps the interviewer understand the impact of your actions and the lessons you learned from the experience. For example: “Despite the initial setback, we successfully incorporated the missing feature and launched the new software system on time. As a result, our team’s efficiency improved by 20%, and we received positive feedback from stakeholders for our quick resolution of the issue.”
By using the B-STAR technique, you can provide a well-structured and comprehensive answer to the interview question, showcasing your skills, experience, and ability to learn from mistakes while demonstrating your problem-solving abilities and adaptability.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
Tell me about a time you made a mistake – Example answer
Business Analyst Example
“I strongly believe in the importance of accuracy and transparency in my work as a business analyst, and I’ve learned that acknowledging and learning from mistakes is crucial for professional growth. There was an instance where I made a mistake while working on a project to streamline a client’s supply chain processes. My role in this project was to analyze data and provide recommendations to the client based on key metrics.
When I discovered that I had made a miscalculation in one of those metrics, I immediately informed my supervisor, taking full responsibility for the error. I collaborated with my team to identify the root cause and develop a plan to correct it. We then presented the updated analysis and recommendations to the client, along with a thorough explanation of the mistake and the steps we took to rectify it. This approach demonstrated my commitment to honesty and transparency.
Despite the initial setback, the project was ultimately successful, and the client was very satisfied with the results. They appreciated our transparency and the corrective measures we took. This experience reinforced the importance of double-checking my work and being open about mistakes. It also showcased my ability to take responsibility and collaborate with my team to find solutions to problems.”
No Experience Answer
As someone with no work experience, I have not yet had the opportunity to make a mistake in a professional setting. However, I am a quick learner and am always willing to take on new challenges. I believe that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and that they provide valuable opportunities for growth and development.
In my academic and personal life, I have faced various challenges and have learned from my mistakes. For example, in a group project in university, I misunderstood the scope of my role and did not complete my assigned tasks on time. This mistake taught me the importance of clear communication and planning in a team setting.
Moving forward, I am eager to bring my positive attitude and willingness to learn to a professional setting. I believe that with the right guidance and support, I have the potential to grow and succeed in any role.
Project Manager Example
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