Mistakes, I’ve made a few…….

What mistakes have you made? Have you ever encountered this question in an interview?
I like to ask it because the answer tells me a lot about the person. If you have worked in a job for 4 years then I would assume you are better at your position now then you were when you started.

Hopefully you have learned something, become more efficient, learned how to prioritize things, etc.

Think back to the first six months of the job. If you were to go back and start over again would you do things differently?

Surprisingly some people don’t have an answer for this. Why?

The possibility exists that they are perfect people but perfect people are rare so I tend to discount this. The other possibility is that they aren’t very good at their job and there are too many mistakes to mention. Alternatively they just might be scared to answer for fear of disqualifying themselves.

This is why I ask this question in favor of “what are your weaknesses” which can lead to a whole passel of canned crappy answers.

At the same time I do tend to see patterns – but they are good patterns.

I will ask a manager what mistakes they made in their first management position. Quite a few of them will tell me that their biggest mistake was to treat their employees as friends. This doesn’t work because you have to eventually fire some of these people or at least tell them when they are performing poorly. So a lot of managers will tell me that they learned to keep a professional distance from their employees.

This is a good answer.

Can’t think of a “mistake”? Well look at it this way, if you were to meet someone who was going to take over this role what advice would you give that person? Chances are you have learned this through trial and error.

Mistakes aren’t negatives; we all make them if you are a mature professional you understand that and are willing to openly discuss them.

A good answer here really can help you stand out from those who are competing with you for the position. Not having a good answer could in fact be your biggest mistake.

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