Mistakes happen, and it takes a strong person to own up to any mistakes. As they say on Sesame Street “Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do.” Employers often ask behavioral interview questions about mistakes, like the following:
Question: “What was the biggest mistake you have made when delegating work as part of a team project?”
You may not be asked this exact question, it may be a slight variation such as “What was the biggest mistake you made at your last job? or What is your greatest professional regret?” Whenever you are faced with this type of question, no matter how it is phrased, follow the guidelines below:
- Never highlight a mistake that is so bad it could keep you from getting hired.
- Never pretend you have never made a mistake.
- Never pass blame onto other people.
- Always sound like you’ve learned from the mistake.
- Always share a project that makes you sound experienced.
- Always say what you’ve done to change it and prevent it in the future.
Let’s look at some answers:
Bad Answer: “I remember one time I gave some work to EMPLOYEE X. He was completely unqualified. He didn’t finish the work on time, and I had to do everything myself.
Good Answer: “While working on PROJECT X, I delegated a lot of extra work to EMPLOYEE X instead of sharing it between myself and EMPLOYEE Y. In hindsight this was a mistake, as I didn’t realize the time requirements it would take from his schedule. He was absolutely overworked which was unfair and it was my fault. Ever since, I have always consulted with the IT department to accurately gauge each projects timeframe and request periodic updates so I know if I need to step in and take on some of the work myself.”
Notice how you admitted fault and admitted a mistake. You didn’t blame the employee, but rather made the mistake of assuming something about the work that you should have known, and followed it up with what you’re doing in the future to prevent similar issues.
That’s the best way to answer this type of question, and a strategy that will help you wow the person that asks you.
See also: What Are Your 2 Greatest Weaknesses?
COMMENT: Try answering the question yourself. What do you think you would say?