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What are firms looking for when they asked this question? How do you demonstrate the right stuff?
The question for today is . . . It is a behavior interview question . . . “Tell me about the time you had to deal with failure.”
You know, when you hear this question what they are trying to do is find out about grit, determination, tenacity and being able to reflect on situations. You see, everything that you work on in life isn't going to work out and it doesn't matter whether you answer this question (although it's ideal that you answer the question) about the workplace in situations where you failed there (not to the tune of billions of dollars obviously).
But you had a professional failure and what you learned from it and how you bounced back from it, taking that knowledge and taking the next step because, you know, trying to see tenacity, resilience, guts, courage . . . things along those lines.
So as you talk about your answer, think about, well, there's a couple of different approaches to this.
Sometimes, the question is disguised . . . It is disguised as, "tell me about how you turned all dream into a reality," and then they'll follow up with "since he didn't completely make it happen, what did you learn from the 'incomplete' on the course" or "tell me about the failure that you had when you tried to turn this dream into reality."
Sometimes I'll just be direct with it. "Tell me about the time you had to deal with failure," which is why I've titled this as I did.
Ultimately, what they're trying to do is what you learned from resilience, learned from the failure, how you've stepped up big or are going for in order to be the success that you are today.
Think about it folks. Not everything you do works and you are not looking to hire someone who's going to whine, complain or moan. Particularly those of you have a senior level. What they're looking for is someone who has had a failure (not failing is a failure according to Warren Buffett.
You can't say that you have never failed because companies will judge that you have never taken a risk.
Firms like risk takers . . . calculated risk takers.
Firms like people who are willing to measure risk and take action. And sometimes it won't work out, particularly for the senior people. They want to know that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go from there because they're being conditioned to believe that gritty people are the better individual to hire. Be prepared to talk about grit and determination.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”
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