The Best Way to Answer 'Tell Me About a Mistake You Made' During an Interview - Deepstash
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How To Answer Questions About Mistakes

How To Answer Questions About Mistakes

Most of us have had to face the dreaded, “Tell me about a time you made a mistake” question while interviewing for a new job.

And while the whole point of an interview is to put your best foot forward—and nobody relishes disclosing past work failures—with a little advanced preparation, your response can actually work in your favour. (The thing you don’t want to do is wing it.) So what’s the best way to answer this question in a way that can enhance your desirability as a candidate?


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Why Is This Question Asked

Why Is This Question Asked

Understand what the interviewer is really getting at, so you can best tailor your response. What they really want to know is how you approach challenges, what you learned from the experience, and how you constructively applied that knowledge to other situations. In addition to gleaning a sense of your weaknesses, they’re trying to assess your problem-solving skills and potential for growth. (They also want to see if you’re honest.)


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How To Answer

How To Answer

  • Pick a specific example of a true work experience (not personal).
  • Make sure the mistake was minor, and something you successfully fixed.
  • Keep it brief, but be prepared to provide more details.
  • Take full responsibility for your mistake.
  • Describe how you solved it, and a positive result.
  • Emphasize what you learned from it and how you applied that knowledge to avoid future mistakes.


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Stuff To Avoid

Stuff To Avoid

  • Do not discuss mistakes that reveal moral failings or character flaws (such as lying or fighting).
  • Don’t pass the blame onto others.
  • Don’t pick a mistake you were not able to fix.
  • Don’t make jokes or disparage your former employer.


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The Famous STAR Technique

The Famous STAR Technique

Keep in mind the “STAR Technique”:

S: Situation – describe the situation you were in when that past work-related mistake happened.

T: Task – explain what you were supposed to do.

A: Action – tell them what happened. Describe what you did wrong and how you handled the negative situation.

R: Result – show the positive results and the lessons you learned from the experience.


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