Interview Question: Tell us about a time when you made a mistake at work

Another selection, another issue. A great question to give a very minimal, anticlimactic, response.

There's no such thing as a person who's never made a mistake at work, and probably never will be. That doesn't mean you have to be personally responsible for a major disaster in the workplace for the sake of satisfying the interviewer's curiosity.

Your choice of answer should be a simple, easily understood situation where

  • No real damage was done,
  • You found and fixed the problem yourself, and
  • Somebody else had a role in the situation.

So the answer is: We thought we'd sent out these invoices, but we hadn't. I checked with accounts, and they had to check their records. So we had to scramble to get them out on time. Could have been quite embarrassing.

You then follow up with something like: I'm a trained person with a lot of experience. I really don't make a lot of mistakes at work.

Hard to argue with, particularly when the interviewers don't have any information to the contrary, and you've just made it clear they won't be getting any from you.

Now, before we go on: Noticing anything about these questions? We'll tell you later, but there's another pattern at work.