As a job seeker, the pursuit of perfection can be a daunting reality; candidates embark on a quest for the perfect resume, perfect interview attire and perfect answers for every question. But what do you do when an employer chooses to focus on failure during an interview?
Here are some tips for how to respond to the age old prompt, “Tell me how you overcame a challenge…”
Embrace your failures! While it is important to highlight your best self to employers, the façade of flawlessness isn’t fooling anyone. Your interviewer wants to know how you solve problems, so be prepared to explain your missteps and mistakes.
Give Concrete, Professional Examples
This is an opportunity to showcase your problem solving strategies. Rather than speaking in abstract terms, be detailed about each step you took in the process of overcoming adversity. “I attack problems head on” tells an employer less than, “I formed a committee of peers to review the tactics the project team was utilizing.” Additionally, while your unique perspective should stand out, try to avoid personal examples that may not be relevant to your workplace, such as experiences with illness or a dysfunctional home situation.
Let Success Shine
Positivity is a powerful tool. Rather than dwelling on the initial disaster, try to focus on your role in turning it around into a successful outcome. Blaming others and negatively characterizing former co-workers not only detracts from your beneficial qualities, it just seems down-right petty.
On your journey for the perfect job, you must be prepared to flip your flops into triumphs. If you’re honest and embrace the difficult times, your next victory might be just around the corner with a job offer!