Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Failed
In this post, we will answer the Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Failed.
- Why this question is asked
- What to say when you’re answering/how to answer it
OK, so what’s the point of this question?
Normally, when interviewers ask these types of questions, especially this one, it comes from the theory that your approach to failure defines your success. The question is designed to see how you approach failure, how you think about it, and what your attitude towards failure is.
So, moving on.
How do we answer this question specifically?
So, you’re going to answer it by telling a story, and with that story, we’re going to use a formula. It’s called the S.A.R.I. formula, which we’ll go through in this post. S.A.R.I. stands for: Situation, Action, Result, and (as a bonus) Interesting features.
The S.A.R.I. formula is mentioned in many posts and many places online, I’m sure, and it comes from the same place as the S.A.R. formula or the S.T.A.R. formula, which are essentially the same. So, S.T.A.R. is: Situation, Task, Action, Result. And S.A.R. is: Situation, Action, Result.
So, now that you know about that, let’s get right into it.
DON’T LOVE READING? Watch video here:
If you do love reading, let’s get back to it…
Step 1: The Situation
So, here is where you’re going to set the stage and paint a picture. So, you’re going to explain what happened, why you failed, and why you thought this was a failure. So, one person might have thought something was a failure, and another person might not have seen it that way, so you’re going to explain what the problem was.
Step 2: Action
This is where the meat of your answer comes in. So, what did you do? Talk about the action that you took—and specifically the action that YOU took. Don’t say “we” or “us.” They want to know what YOU did. Top candidates own up to their part in a failure, and then they come up with options on how to fix it and how to move forward quickly, so present the options that you suggested to fix it, and tell them which one you went with and why.
Step 3: Result
Explain how it worked out in the end. What happened as a result of your actions? Every story is not complete without a happy ending, so make sure it’s something positive you choose to tell the story about, and the story ends well.
Step 4: Interesting Features
This is a bonus. I know this is all hard to remember all together, but… Interesting features. So, this is what really puts the icing on the cake. Zero in on learning, talk about resources you used to get the results that you did—anything that adds interest to the story and makes the story more fun to listen to.
For example, an interesting feature that you can use to wrap it up is an insightful comment on how you view failure. These make good interesting features and are nuggets of wisdom that highlight how you learn and grow.
Here’s a couple of good ones:
- You can’t fail if you don’t give up… or
- You learn more from your failures than you ever do from your successes.
And all in all, failures are rich with experience. They’re rich with growth. They mean character building. They mean learning. They mean tough growth moments, so don’t shy away from talking about them. Embrace them, own them and believe that they make you a better person because they do! If you never tried at anything, you’d never fail, and you’ve never have any experience., and you’d never grow.
What is your attitude towards failure?
How do you deal when things go wrong?
And how do you take responsibility for the failure, and how do you propose to fix it?
There we have it! The answer to the Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Failed.
You can tell them how it turned out. Don’t forget to tell them how the story ends.
Don’t leave them hanging!
And as a bonus, add interesting features like telling them what you learned and interesting insights that you learned from your particular story.
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.
Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favour and share this info with him/her.
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