With this question, a prospective employer wants to know that you can own your mistakes and move past it. It will not be helpful to avoid answering the question at all. Even if you have no regrets, you still have the opportunity to say what you have learned from your experiences. Make sure that your response is career minded rather than bringing up personal regrets. Your response to any question should emphasize your good fit for the position.
Points to Emphasize
It is imperative that you respond positively and confidently and with the following tips in mind.
- Be frank about what happened. It might be easy to brush off a termination as no big deal but if it is your biggest regret, then it was a big deal.
- End on a positive note. Don’t just say that your biggest regret was getting fired and leave it at that. Mention an experience that you were able to grow and learn from.
- Speak positively about what happened. Even your biggest regret has a positive spin that you can apply to it.
- Talk about what you have done differently. This should include what you have learned since it happened.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Questions about regrets and mistakes can lead to negativity and loss of confidence. Make sure you avoid this and these other mistakes in your response.
- Don’t exaggerate or lie about what happened. You will not do yourself any favors by downplaying the situation.
- Avoid shifting blame. Part of this question involves being accountable for what you did.
- Don’t leave them hanging. An easy mistake to make when asked this question is to get down on yourself and mention your regret, and then neglect to identify how it makes you a good fit for this particular position.
- Be confident. Talking about regrets might bring up sad memories or make you feel angry but don’t let this throw your confidence.
A regret could be a promotion you refused or ideas that you didn’t share. Here is a sample response that helps put a positive spin on a regretful situation.
I once had an idea for a marketing approach that I wanted to share but I froze when I was asked for suggestions. Not being able to share an idea when I wanted to and should have was a massive regret. However, I have committed to speaking up more in my professional life and sharing ideas that can further my career and the company I’m working in.
Working through and getting past regrets in your professional life is key to moving on and in some cases doing so successfully can help you land a great job.