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Interview Question - Tell me About a Time When You Made a Mistake?

Tell me About a Time When You Made a Mistake?

One of the questions an interviewer might ask about past mistakes is, “What did you learn from your mistakes?” and the other, “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.” 

While the topic may make you uncomfortable, it is important to know how Answer a job interview question about mistakes.

Tell me about a time when you made a mistake?


While discussing your past mistakes may not be your favorite topic of conversation, it is a good way to show your ability to grow and learn.

During a job interview, the employer may inquire about your past work mistakes.

By preparing for this type of interview question, you can show employers that you can handle a variety of situations. In this article, we share how to effectively answer the “Tell me about a time when I made a mistake?” during a job interview.


Some other formulas


There are many forms of the question, depending on the interviewer, including:

  • Did you make any mistakes at work, and why?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake?
  • Tell me a time when you failed?

Why does the interviewer ask you this question?


When the hiring manager asks “Tell me about a time you made a mistake?” it's not because they're trying to trip you up; Instead, it is an opportunity for the interviewer to see that you are able to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them, two very important qualities.

The employer prefers to hire candidates who admit and grow from their mistakes rather than those who believe they have not made any mistakes.

As with any frequently asked question, it is important to make sure you prepare an answer before going to a job interview.

How to prepare for the answer


We all make mistakes. And anyone you're going to interview for any job knows that. But when you know something was your fault, do yourself a favor and admit it.

No one wants to work with someone who always points the finger, however, and many applicants I meet have done their best to convince me that there is nothing they could have done differently. 

This was a big problem, especially as I grew up and loved the candidate so much.


Although no one likes to talk about their mistakes, being able to discuss your past mistakes in a job interview can actually be a great way to impress the interviewer.

So when you are faced with a question like, “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake,” during an interview for an internship or entry-level job, you should focus on how you handled the mistake and what you were able to learn from it.

You should do these tips to show that you are the right person for the job:

  • Be honest
  • Take responsibility
  • Mark the accuracy
  • Emphasis on lessons learned

Examples to answer the question


The “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake?” question includes some of the answers you can provide for specific situations:

In the previous training period, I reduced the amount of time I would need to work on a presentation for a team meeting. I was still getting used to the workflow of a busy office, so I didn't realize I'd need a few extra hours to put together a bunch of stuff. Fortunately, I was able to catch the error before my presentation was due and asked my boss for help to complete it in a timely manner. It was a valuable lesson in time management and I became better at prioritizing and charting my agenda as a result of that experience.

I'm the kind of person who tries to learn and grow from every mistake. Years ago, the team I was working on failed to get a sale, and we were told it was partly to do with our ineffective photos. Over the next six months, I spent a lot of my free time learning how to use different software to create engaging visual presentations. Since then, my visuals are continually praised at meetings and sales presentations.

One thing I've learned from past mistakes is when to ask for help. I've learned that it's much better to ask for clarification and solve a problem right away than to be unsure. I know that your company emphasizes teamwork and the need to constantly communicate with one another, and I believe that my ability to ask (and answer) my colleagues' questions will help me fit in well with your company culture.

When I was new to my company, I accepted two concurrent projects from two managers. I didn't want to look like I couldn't handle the work, so I didn't tell either of them that I had another project. When the deadlines for one project changed unexpectedly, I couldn't meet the deadlines for both. I've admitted the problem to my managers, and one of them brought in another employee to help meet accelerated deadlines. I now keep my boss informed of potential issues and assess what I can more realistically address.

See: What Do You Hate the Most About Your Job? - Interview Question

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