Recruiters Hire Humans: Discussing Failure During Interviews


No one is perfect. Yet many candidates stumble when asked, ‘tell me about a project that did not go to plan?’

The struggle with this key interview question is often because we focus on (and remember) what is going well and what we like, while failing to work on areas we perhaps don’t enjoy or struggle at. However, it is extremely important as a job candidate to get this question right.

When an executive recruiter or hiring manager asks about your weaknesses or examples of failure, they are looking to understand your process for self-development and continual learning.
Respond with experiences that use team-orientated or leadership-driven solutions to overcome weaknesses, and tailor your examples to the requirements of the position and your interviewer.
As Dmitry Isaev highlights in the AESC / BlueSteps LinkedIn group, failure leads to experience that builds your skill base, and ultimately, leads to success,
‘Failures make us think, improve, excel and be more competitive. Success has never been a low-hanging fruit.’
Offer examples of failure or personal weakness, and then follow with turnarounds, lessons learned and skills gained. As highlighted below by Louise Kursmark, executive career coach, tell each example in a compelling narrative:

‘Good storytelling is the essence of good interviewing. Good interview preparation is to prepare and practice telling your success stories, using a logical flow and keeping them relatively short and crystal clear to any listener. If you prepare a good number of stories ahead of time, you'll be ready to pull them out as appropriate to answer the interviewer's question or illustrate an important point or critical skill. And you'll be interesting and memorable! Both great attributes in a candidate.’

Considering the above, are you ready to discuss failure?



This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com


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