Interview Questions and Answers: Define job failure interview questions

Like the interview questions asking you to 'Define job success', this is a test of your thinking. Other than that, the questions don't have a lot in common. The 'success' interview question is a demanding question, but it doesn't require you to think negatively about the job.

The idea of the 'job failure' interview question is to see if applicants really understand the job. People get fired daily, people make a mess out of jobs every second. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the interview question is looking for people who can recognize failure.

In every job, there's always a few people who know what's supposed to happen, and make sure it does. Competent people can spot problems, and can see where things are breaking down. Good workers can see the danger signs, when something's not working properly.

This interview question is a really effective way of finding experienced people, for those reasons. (The only drawback is that truly experienced people can describe so many situations.) This is another interview question which usually occurs higher up the hierarchy of organizations, but it's also common where individual responsibilities are high. Remember also that your interview answer can count heavily in your favor, in competitive interviews.

A good interview answer is the only way to make an impact. Like 'job success' interview question, the 'job failure' interview question has predetermined requirements for interview answers. The mere fact that this interview question is being asked should indicate that it's being asked for a reason. Mentally prepare yourself to consider interview answers describing a real mess.

Basic definitions of 'job failure' interview answers

There are a few obvious interview answers, relating to physical functions of any organization:

  • Not meeting goals
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • Administrative backlogs and breakdowns
  • Client complaints
  • Dysfunctional processes
  • Relationship issues
  • Staff issues

These things are mainly useful as an introduction to the specifics, when dealing with 'job failure' descriptions. Each job has a personal performance element, and that has to be addressed. What's needed is to equate those kinds of failures to a personal level. The best way to do that is to create a criteria, a measure of failure, to clarify your interview answer.


The job is a customer service/ administration job with several integrated functions in a high stress position. Job criteria require understanding of performance requirements.

Interview question: 'Define failure in doing this job'.

'There are several functions related to organizational processes in this job, so the definition of 'failure' has to include all of them. Performance has to be measured across both customer service and administration roles, to define the success or failure of the job.

That means failure to achieve targets, client satisfaction, quality of work, and meeting required key performance indicators. It could also relate to team role situations, internal relationships, or other dysfunctions in performance.'

The interview answer meets the established job criteria.