Interview Questions and Answers: When things go wrong

The interview question requires an example of working in the organizational environment. To give an effective interview answer, you have to use an example which you can explain clearly.

The important elements of your interview answer are:

  • describing the problem.
  • explaining the importance of the problem.
  • describing the steps you took in that situation
  • explaining the outcome

Describing the Problem

Clearly explain:

  • the job involved
  • what happened
  • the nature of the problem

This is another structured interview answer, and this information sets the scene, explaining the basics.

Explaining the Importance of the Problem

Why was this situation an issue? Sometimes the problem is obvious, but make sure your interview answer covers these points.

Describing the Steps you Took in That Situation

In this interview question you need an example within the organizational framework. Your interview answer should set out clearly how you approached solving the problem.

Explaining the Outcome

The interview question is looking for solutions. This part of your interview answer should show how the problem was solved, and refer to any positive feedback.

Quality Control for Your Interview Answer

Pick a good example where you can cover all the points above. This interview question needs an easy to understand example. Your interview answer should be expressed simply, even if the situation was complex.


The interview question is 'Tell us about a time when something went wrong.'

'In my current IT job, just after I started, I was working the night shift, when we had a massive system crash. There was no way we could even begin to fix things before startup the following day.

I rang the manager, at 1AM. He told me to use a remote backup system the business has for total crashes like this. I didn't even know they had this system, at the time.

The backup was ready to run the next day, and we didn't lose any time or data. The boss thanked me for my call, because apparently the whole business would have been down until he came in.'


This interview answer demonstrates:

  • clear appreciation of the situation
  • recognition of organizational needs
  • prompt action to inform management
  • effective response to instructions
  • good outcome
  • positive feedback

The interview question has been fully covered.