Difficult Interview Question: What is Your Greatest Professional Regret?
Remember when you were six years old, and this cute member of the opposite sex gave you funny feelings that you didn’t understand, so to get back at them for causing these feelings you dug up a bunch of worms and put them down their underwear, only to find out 10 years later that they liked you at the time and grew up to become the most attractive and popular kid in high school? That’s probably your greatest regret, but it isn’t your greatest professional regret, so when asked about your biggest mistake during your professional career, you will have to come up with an answer that doesn’t reflect too poorly on you while still answering the question adequately.
Great Professional Regrets
The following represent great answers for “professional regrets.”
- Promotions you did not accept.
- Internship opportunities you could not afford to pursue.
- Inventions/ideas you did not share.
The first two are difficult. Chances are if you were provided an opportunity to advance your career, you took it. However, if you are one of the few that did not, these are great answers. They make you look like a fantastic employee and your greatest professional regret was a missed opportunity.
Not sharing ideas is the next best answer. If you had an idea you didn’t share that would have helped turn a profit, and failing to share that idea cost the company money, this is a good answer. Chances are you have some answer like this.
“My greatest professional regret was back when I worked at the local grocery store. I had a rough morning with a customer, and when my boss asked me to stock the shelves, I yelled at him and ended up losing my job.”
“My greatest professional regret occurred when I worked for MarketingCorp. I had an idea for a campaign that could potentially take advantage of an upcoming shift in social media, but I talked myself out of sharing it and a competitor utilized it to their own advantage. Since then I’ve been working on sharing all of my ideas, especially when they are related to possible improved profit for the company.”
This is a good answer, and don’t forget to add what you did to ensure that your greatest professional regret does not occur again.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Your greatest professional regret should be a missed opportunity that makes you look like a great employee.
- Always follow up with what you are doing to ensure it never happens again.