How Do You Handle Failure? [With Answers for 2021]

I Can Accept Failure, Everyone Fails At Something.
But I Can’t Accept Not Trying

Michael Jordan

Most people fear failure and make it as an excuse for not being able to succeed in the long run of life. But in actuality, failure is a massive part of being able to be successful. It is where all the lessons to become better and to grow are. Successful people fail a lot too, but what they do differently is that they extract the lessons from the failure, and use that energy and wisdom to come around to the next phase of success.

It is rather true and wise, that your approaches towards failure and perspective in the way of dealing it is what makes a difference in your academic, social, financial and personal parts of your future, including the career. And these attributes of your vision are exactly what recruiters in top companies are looking for in you when you present yourself as a potential candidate.

One of the key factors that they seek in an ideal candidate for any position is that how optimistic and positive you are when it comes to problem solving and more importantly, handling the situation in case it still goes wrong. Because the employers know you cannot possibly predict the consequences in terms of success and failure, but you can be prepared in order to respond to them.
With that being said, it is expected in an interview, for you to state a time when you failed, and how you handled it. Let’s see 10 ways to answer to these questions.

8 Ways To Answer Failure Related Questions

Here are 10 ideal templates for you to answer failure related questions in an interview, or whenever necessary in your life. Although your answer may vary depending on your own personal experiences of dealing with obstacles and failures in the past, the structure for these answers remains the same.
This question is important to HR managers because it reveals crucial information about you, and it will most likely convince them if you are the right person to fill up the position. So let us make sure to prevent it from a deal breaker to a deal maker.

Sample Answer 1

I understand that the busier a person is, he is highly likely to make mistakes and fail at certain tasks. The only thing that differs me from others, is that I tend to stay calm and positive irrespective of how worse the conditions at hand become. I believe to keep moving forward from life’s inevitable ups and downs and learn from mistakes of myself and those around me.

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I disclose myself to at least one person, to get rid of the negative energy and disappointment caused. Having a benevolent worldview, I see problems as challenges and failures as opportunities to seek something better and apply past learnings to new ventures.

Sample Answer 2

In my opinion, our families, relationships and our society as a whole survive and thrive because positive people cut their losses and minimize their mistakes. It’s only when people refuse to accept their bad choices or decisions and prolong their consequences by sticking longer to them, do they become extremely expensive and hurtful to oneself and those around. And then learn from them.

On the other hand, I hold a mentality of using failures to my own benefit by improving the quality of my thinking. I found learning from my mistakes as an essential skill that enabled me to develop the resilience to be a master of change, rather than its victim. One who learns and adopts to it faster, gains an advantage in this era of ever increasing technology and competition.

Sample Answer 3 (Using STAR Technique)

In my previous job, I was managing a project for the company’s one of most valuable clients. We had promised to get it done in under 21 days, and it was my responsibility to ensure that everything is completed both on time and to the right standards. Within a week of commencing, I realized it would take an extra week to complete the task.

I contacted my superiors and explained the turmoil we were in because of my miscalculation. This was then notified to the client and he actually thanked me for my honesty, and accepted the 28 day time frame. I learnt a lot from this situation and moving forward I always ensured I estimated completion times more accurately.

Now that is a great answer because you mentioned a specific situation you were in, you were honest, and used the STAR technique too.

Sample Answer 4

When I first started to work at my previous job, the role manager gave me a task to complete that involved carrying out a stock check of all company goods that we had available. In my hastiness to do a good job, I failed to listen to his brief properly and I ended up including items in the stock check that I should have excluded. As soon as I noticed my error, I informed the manager and explained to him the reason why I had made a mistake. I also took care to make things right, right away.

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I learned a lot from that situation especially in respect of making sure I took notes when a brief was given to me. If I ever do fail at something, I will admit to it before putting things right and make sure the same mistake is not repeated again.

Sample Answer 5

After being in y last job for a few months, my supervisor called me in to speak about my past performance with respect to customer service call handling targets. I was failing to answer the required number of calls each day because I was spending way too much time speaking to the customers, instead of getting to the root of their problem quickly so I could move on to the next call. At first I couldn’t understand why I was failing because the business needs to be as efficient as possible.

After the conversation with my supervisor, I decided to take an online course that enabled me to deal with customer calls faster while still providing a high level of service. Now following the course, my call handling skills improved significantly and I was praised for listening and working on the negative feedback that was given to me.

Sample Answer 6

Tell a story using the star method to engage your interviewer in an answer they’ll remember, be a storyteller. Storytelling is very important interview technique that helps you stay longer in the minds of listeners than direct simple Q & A format.

The star method works as follows:

  1. S – Situation
  2. T – Tasks
  3. A – Action
  4. R – Result

consider yourself working in a new position where you have been assigned new tasks like preparing and tracking of new product or service, keeping up with the team, etc. Suppose you get too engaged in improving this new product, that you fail to prepare for its presentation in time. And because of this, your supervisors are not greatly impressed.
You can use this as an example of learning better management and proper planning skills.

Sample Answer 7

Express confidently an incident or two happened in the recent past, to show the recruiter your perspective of handling it. Avoid choosing examples that make you look too unreliable, for example, being the person solely responsible for loosing millions of dollars to your company. Just picking a good example of when you failed resembles that you are self aware and mature enough to own up to your mistakes.

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Never resort back and be embarrassed while answering this question, because failures are a lot more common than we tend to think. Instead, build up an argument in way that shows you are now ready for making bigger decisions better mistakes than before. Also remember to make a point that your shortcomings have no effect on the people and community you are working with.

Sample Answer 8

Choose a specific example of when and how you failed. You might be inclined to avoid this question altogether or to speak about something generally that you improved on. While it might seem you look better, but its actually more impressive to an employer when you can acknowledge your mistakes and talk about what you learnt from it.

To prepare your answer to this question, think about the specific times you have fallen short in the past, especially in the workplace. Pick something where you can pinpoint exactly how you failed. Choosing something that happened a bit earlier will help you feel more comfortable to talk openly about. It will also reassure your potential employer that you’ve grown and moved past this failure.

Conclusion

These type of interview questions are drafted to check your responses, performance and decision making abilities in unfavourable times. The article aims at providing you the most precise glimpse of the experience you will have with the recruiters at the company. Thus, the basic key is to answer as calmly as possible, and prepare well enough beforehand. This will give you a relative advantage over other potential candidates applying for the same job. Hope you liked the article, do let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to share it with your family and friends. Reference links supporting the tips are listed in the “Reference” section below. Do visit for additional info.

References

  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/21510523
  2. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/08876040910965548/full/html