While we know that failure is always a possibility, no one ever sets out with the intention to fail. In thinking back on my career to date, one of my greatest leadership failures was my communication with one of my team members.
- I was intimidated by them.
- I was always worried about what they thought of me and my leadership.
- I felt like they were always questioning if I was the right person for the job.
Overtime, I projected my insecurities on them and I often had a story of “they’re not listening to me”. I would share feedback and it was rarely received. I had completely lost my confidence and my power. And, the truth is… it was my own doing. I was drowning and it wasn’t until one of my leaders stepped in to support me that things began to shift.
My failure…I never asked for help. Instead of waving the flag, I tried to figure it out on my own.
While this was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had, I learned so much about myself, leading others, asking for help and my responsibility in being a clear communicator.
I share a preview of this failure with you because this experience, this failure, has shaped who I am as a leader. I’m always reminded that without the challenges of that time, I wouldn’t be who and where I am today.
I’m often asked, ‘how do I best speak to my failures during an interview?’
- Will I say the wrong thing?
- Should I downplay the experience?
- Will I seem less valuable or qualified for the role if I open up?
What’s notable about failure is that in order to find success you must often pass through it.
Being able to speak to your growth is an important component of interviewing. It allows your future employer to hear about the learnings you’ve had, how you’ve actioned them, your self awareness and your resilience to keeping going even when things get challenging. To support you in feeling empowered to share your failures, here are 3 myths debunked when speaking to failure during your interview.
Myth #1: You need to downplay the failure.When preparing for interviews one of the pieces I consistently share is the importance of answering questions with relevant examples. So before you share any ol’ failure, think about choosing one that conveys that you have the skill and experience the hiring manager is looking for. It’s not about downplaying the failure, it’s ensuring that you’re clearly able to articulate the learning you had and how it’s impacted your growth.
Myth #2: Sharing your failure will undervalue your ability.A common misbelief is that sharing your failure will undermine your ability to do the job. In reality, speaking to your failure shows your complete, well-rounded skill set.
Failure is said to:
💥 Ignite creativity
💥 Build resilience
💥 Be a more effective mentor and leader
Again, think of an example of failure where you can speak to what was created as a result of the failure you had. Everyone loves a great ‘rise from the ashes’ story.
Myth #3: Sharing your failure will be seen as a negative.It’s quite the opposite. Not having a failure to share says more about your willingness to put yourself out there, to make bold requests, to make mistakes, push boundaries…to innovate. Interviews aren’t all about sharing the perfect career journey. Share the meaningful lessons you’ve had that will contribute to the organization’s growth. I’m reminded of the quote, “If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you ensure it.”