September 13, 2022

Successfully dealing with failure in job interviews

Failure, they say, is a great teacher. We often learn so much from when things don’t go right. Experience, Oscar Wilde said, is simply the name we give our mistakes.

So, in a job interview how do we deal with the experience we earned the hard way?

Obviously, we don’t want job interviews to be a litany of woe; “this went wrong, then that caught us off guard then things went really downhill”.

But positioned well, giving an example or two in an interview of how you reacted when things go awry can be a smart move.

Successful job interviews feature strong stories to illustrate your skills. An element of adversity overcome makes for compelling and memorable stories.


Show your authentic self

Owning our flaws can have several advantages:

  • It will make you and your interview answers more authentic – smart interviewers know things don’t always work out.
  • It shows self-awareness and the confidence, maturity and judgment to tackle difficult topics.
  • It demonstrates resilience and character in overcoming self-doubt and adversity.
  • It shows you have an important skill that is always valued – and which is often not listed in position descriptions – the ability to turn bad situations around.
  • It will make you more relatable.

Getting the positioning right

When things go wrong we can beat ourselves up, or we can see mistakes as a spur to improvement.

Turning a negative into a positive in a job interview means not emphasising what went wrong but focussing on how you made things right or became a better practitioner because of your experience.

We shouldn’t see mistakes as final judgments on ourselves but as opportunities to adapt, and build confidence and perseverance.

In job interviews, as in life, it’s important not to let a good mistake go to waste.

– After more interview and CV advice? See our blog for further articles.

Written by John King

John specialises in leading assignments for the recruitment of communications professionals at all levels for the private, not-for-profit and public sectors.

Prior to joining JacksonStone & Partners, John worked for 20 years providing strategic and communications counsel to a range of public and private sector clients, including board chairs, chief executives and senior management – often during times of crisis or change.

John’s media and communications experience, and his experience as a hiring manager, means he has built up deep understanding of the types of people clients are looking for and what it takes to recruit high-quality communications professionals.

John works closely with clients to understand their specific needs, and to build trust and an enduring relationship. His engaging approach puts people at ease and encourages open and honest conversations with candidates.

His experience provides insights that will help you find and appoint high-calibre candidates that meet your needs.

Areas of specialisation: Communications professionals
Years in the industry: 3

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