Interview Question: Give me an Example of a Project that Completely Failed

Interview Question about failureThe, “Tell me about a failure…” question is just as important as asking an applicant about achievements. Realistically, success also comes with numerous failures that pushed a person to learn and do better the next time around. For example, if you think you’re doing well in your career as a software developer, then you must remember some instances where you failed miserably. Recruiters and employers are curious about this to understand how you act and work under pressure.

Asking about a project that failed helps the employer get to know the applicant and dicover whether he or she is passionate, driven, resilient and quality-focused. Will the candidate be of use to the company in tough situations? Do they respond well no matter how bad it gets?

Below are some tips to help you answer this question without damaging your reputation:

Make a list of all your failed projects. This is important to help you remember the projects that didn’t come out as successful as the others. Writing them all down will help you look back to those unfortunate events that eventually pushed you to do better the next time around.

Whatever your field, it is vital to persevere no matter how much you fail at any project. Screw-ups help you avoid making the same mistakes all over again. Have you ever lost a report or computer code to a computer crash and needed to write it again? Remember how much faster you put it together the second time? That’s because you overcame and learned from your mistakes and problems the first time through.

Identify which projects you poured your heart into and failed, and which ones went south for embarrassing reasons. Even your failures should represent you well. They should be experiences where you work hard towards a goal, yet despite your best efforts were not able to achieve that goal. Avoid situations that went badly because of office politics or personal reasons.

For example, if a project failed because of a disagreement with your boss or because you got a bad flu, you don’t want to bring those up during an interview. They are harder to explain as learning experiences and without reliving negative emotions tied to these projects.

Analyze each failed project and find out what went wrong. Doing this helps you keep track of your failed projects and what you did that caused it to fail. This step involves being honest enough to know how huge a mistake you’ve made.

Remember what you did next after a failure. Of course, moving on to a next project is important after meeting such failure. Share your experience with the recruiter on how you dealt with failure, what you learned to avoid a repeat, and what made you keep on going. This will give the hiring manager a feel of how you work as a colleague, whether you’re successful at something or not.

Don’t be embarrassed about it. If you have made a major disaster in the past, don’t hesitate to share it with the hiring manager. Use it as a defining moment that lead to your current success. After all, you wouldn’t be as successful if you hadn’t encountered and overcome major letdowns in your career.

Shift the focus back to your accomplishments. Do not dwell on your failures that long. And avoid speaking about the situation negatively or bitterly. You have to get your point across that you were able to move on after meeting such big failure

Remember, your failures are a big reason for your successes.

Read 11495 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 March 2016 14:08
Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.