Sunday, March 21, 2010

Failure Is A Requirement

Every time I have a grand vision for a long and informative job post, I realize it needs to be shorter and not longer. After trying to write something of epic proportions, I came up with the following couple paragraphs instead.

There's only one way to effectively talk about past failure in an interview, and that's to own your screw ups. "Owning it" means you can articulate your contribution to the boo boo without blaming anyone, including yourself. You have to reflect on the failure, figure out what you could have done differently, communicate to an interviewer that you've learned your lesson, and offer a possible solution to the problem should it come up again. Any reasonable employer wants to see that you know how to push through failure, because you're going to screw up again and have to deal with the consequences.

There is no need to be afraid about showing your fallibility. If an interviewer asks you about your most heinous professional debacle, tell the truth about falling down and picking yourself back up. In fact, I recommend getting your interviewer to join you in the adventure. The second you're done telling your story, ask the interviewer about a time he or she screwed up, but give them an out; say something like, "Would you be interested in sharing a quick story about a mistake you made on the job?" Even if the interviewer doesn't share, they'll be thinking about it and that puts you on even ground, which is exactly where you want to be.

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