Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time When You Made A Mistake At Work
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Why this question is asked/What they really want to know
- What to say when you’re answering/How to answer
- And we’ll go through the step-by-step, you’ll be able to wrap it up gracefully without rambling.
So, what’s the deal here? Why are they asking this?
They want to see how you handle mistakes. They want to see how you see mistakes, what your overall attitude is towards them. The question is designed to get inside your head and view how you handle screw-ups and how you think about them and how you internalize them.
You might have guessed it—we’re going to be using the S.A.R.I. formula.
The S.A.R.I. formula, if you haven’t heard of it before, it stands for: Situation, Action, Result, and Interesting features.
The formula comes in many different forms, so you may have heard of the S.T.A.R. interview formula or the S.T.A.R. formula, and it’s basically all the same: Situation, Task, Action and Result.
So, now that you know about that, in my head, I always think of it as a story because it can be hard to remember all these pieces.
A story always has a beginning, where you introduce what the task or the situation is, the middle has the meat of the story or the action happens—literally where the action took place, and the hero comes in and saves the day—and then the ending, which is the result, where you wrap it up, and you tell how the story ended happily.
Interesting features sprinkled in are always great because they make you more interesting, and they add appeal to your answer, and they make you memorable.
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So, how do you answer this one?
Step 1: Situation or Task
So, setting the stage: You want to present the mistake that you made. For example — we’re going to use a specific example — say you forgot to invite someone to a meeting that was a key decision maker, and you scheduled the meeting, and you forgot to invite this key person.
Step 2: What did you do?
This is the action portion—the meat of the story. What action did you take?
The first thing that I always say is that I own up to the mistake. That’s what top candidates always do. No excuses. Flat out “This is what happened, and this was my oversight, and this is what I plan to do about it.”
So, with the action, you can talk about how you proceeded to fix it. What options did you choose? You go through the scenario of what you did, and you describe exactly your actions.
You want to be careful to only talk about what you did because if you say “we” or “us,” that kind of dilutes your story, and you want to make sure you’re talking about you the whole time because that’s what they care about.
Step 3: The Result
So, what was the end result? Let them know how it turned out, how you handled it, how you fixed it, and how it ended.
And 4 is the bonus: Interesting Features
For interesting features, you could wrap up with a cool little saying like:
- “It’s not a mistake; it’s a lesson if you never repeat it.”
- “The biggest growth moments happen from mistakes.”
- And “Mistakes are rich with experience. They mean character building, learning and lots of growth.”
So, don’t shy away from talking about them. Embrace them, own them, and make sure you tell them how they ended up and how you were able to fix them.
And there we have it: The answer to the Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time When You Made A Mistake At Work.
What is your attitude towards when you make a mistake?
How do you deal with things when they don’t go perfectly?
You want to show maturity in your answer and that you got to the facts—you just decided what you were going to do, looked at the situation and took the best course of action that you could to fix it.
You want to show that you took responsibility, and you owned up to it, and you want to highlight what you learned in the end.
Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like more help with these types of questions, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide. You can click the link below and get free instant access, and it’s called The Guide to Situational Interviewing.
What you’ll get inside the guide:
Top-ten examples of stories that have proven to be impressive interview answers
The S.A.R.I. formula breakdown of how to answer these questions
The step-by-step of why it works
Fill-in-the-blank templates for each question so, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks and get going!
Now you’ll need to come up with your own stories! (You can steal the ones in the guide if they apply to you though too, I don’t mind)
If you are still getting stuck because you can’t think of your own stories…
I’ve included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your stories much quicker!
You’ll get all this in a beautifully designed workbook prepared specifically for you to prepare for your interviews.
By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for any situational interview that comes your way!
Here is some feedback I’ve gotten from this guide, and I get new emails like this every day, and they NEVER get old!
By the end of working through the guide you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that gets thrown your way!
Click below and grab it now.
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And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.
So, thank you so much for reading, and I will see you next week here at my digital house of
In Work & Life