How to answer "Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake" | Interview Tips

interview interview questions job interview tips youtube video Jan 11, 2022

“Tell me about a time you made a mistake.” 

Ugh. This question might be worse than “What’s your greatest weakness?” 

But if it’s asked you have to answer, so let’s talk about how to do that!

I always like to start with WHY they are asking the question. 

Remember, they aren’t asking “When did you make a mistake” to humiliate you or automatically cancel you out (They WANT to Hire someone!)

They want to see self-awareness and improvement. This is your chance to show that you understand you are not perfect and show some resilience- how did you come back from the mistake. 

Now this question can be dangerous territory because most of us have a scar or two from a time we did something wrong or made a bad choice at work, and often when we hear this question, those are the things we think of.

But the question didn’t ask for your BIGGEST mistake, just A Mistake. Don’t use your worst experience for this question. 

If you need some help thinking about a mistake, here are some ideas

  • Something small a supervisor wanted you to change
  • Something you did that had to be fixed
  • Something you’ve realized in hindsight you would do differently. 

Common examples often are around taking on too much work, assumptions of how something would or should be done, not checking work. 

And here are the keys to answering: 

Don’t dwell on the mistake. State it and move on-

Focus on what you learned. 

Are they now preventative steps? What did you change so the mistake wouldn’t happen again? Or what would you do differently if that situation repeated itself?

Remember, it’s about growth, not seeing how big a screw-up you are!

And of course, make sure you put all this in the STAR method of Situation, Task, Action, Result. 

Stating it this way gives context to how the mistake was made and how you are going to prevent it in the future. 

By focusing on what you learned you are demonstrating your ability to grow and change.