We asked Amelia Bourbonnais, sourcing specialist at Xerox Canada Ltd, for her take on how to answer one of the many odd and confusing questions you might encounter during your next job interview. Read on, and good luck!
Q: Tell me about a recent mistake you made and what you did to resolve it.
I ask this question because I want to see how a person reacts to making a mistake. Too often, candidates during interview prep become obsessed with making sure they always put their “best foot” forward. I think that a candidate who shows they are comfortable talking about a mistake are those that are most confident in their abilities. Obviously, we are looking for those of you that are confident because, well, you simply make for better employees. But I also like this question because it shows me how you will deal with adversity on the job. What separates a good employee from a great employee is one that can admit mistakes and then fix them. It’s more important to know how to handle crises then to avoid them at all costs. Avoiding a problem, in the long run, just creates bigger and larger issues.
My suggestion for dealing with this type of question is to focus on real-life examples and then try to provide a concrete example. I want an example where you have an actual problem which you resolved and learned from. A great example would be something where you missed a detail in a procedure but learned from the mistake and developed a newly structured process to make sure the problem never occurred again. Here’s a great example to follow:
“I organized interviews for my manager in a three-day span. The first interviewee did not show up to the interview, and I quickly realized that I had not confirmed with him the interview time. I reviewed all other interviews scheduled and made sure each candidate had confirmed. As a result, every candidate after that attended their interviews and we hired the strongest one by day three. In the future, I made sure to confirm each candidate the day before their interview. I rarely have a candidate not show up to the interview now.”
One of the worst answers which I have gotten is: “When I work in a team environment, I tend to rely on team mates who always let me down.” This answer only shows me that you don’t think you have any actual faults (which we ALL do). Remember, you look a lot better when you provide an actual example as it implies you have reflected on what you can do better in your career. It shows a certain amount of self-awareness. Self-awareness is a large portion of what makes future leaders. Those that can understand themselves, can lead others on the same path. jp