More Interview Questions and Answers
How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?
Alternative and related questions:
Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?
How do you handle being criticised?
The meaning behind the question:
There are really three different questions here but they're all very closely related. The interviewer is trying to assess how you deal with adversity – whether that adversity be in the form of rejection, failure or some other disappointment. It's also a question which gives them a useful opportunity to potentially pinpoint a particular occasion when you experienced such adversity.
Naturally, assessing how someone handles adversity says a lot about them a person. The interviewer won’t want to hire someone who can't handle it when the going gets tough.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Rejection, disappointment, failure – everyone experiences these from time to time during the course of their careers, even renowned business superstars like Richard Branson. But one trait which sets people like Richard Branson apart from some others is that, when they do get knocked down, they always get back up again. Not only that but when they get back up, they become stronger, having learned as much from the experience as they can.
This is what you need to aim to communicate to the interviewer in your answer. Try to avoid giving a specific example unless they force you to. Just concentrate on speaking in general terms about you handle adversity. Take what could potentially be a negative topic and turn it round so that it becomes a positive selling point. Show them how you can benefit from adversity.
I'm certainly realistic enough to appreciate that things don't always go the way one would hope or expect them to go and that the occasional disappointment is a fact of life. But I feel that what's most important is how one handles such circumstances. I endeavour to learn as much as I can from any possible failures; they really are excellent learning opportunities and they can be a blessing in disguise in that sense. And it's always important to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!
Word of warning:
Even if you don't give the interviewer a specific example, you will of course have to be prepared for the possibility that they will push to get one out of you. If you do have to cite a real-life event then try to pick something which isn't too negative, try to pick something which is reasonably far back in your past and, most importantly, try to pick something where the blame, if any, wasn't solely attributable to you and you alone. For example, your company having failed to win a valuable contract would work well as an answer. If possible, you can go on to outline what was learned from the experience and how this knowledge was put to good use in the future.
The Interview Question & Answer Book
More interview questions and answers
Talking about your current employment
- Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?
- What will you remember most about your last job?
- Is this the first time you have made an effort to move away from your current employers?
- How do you feel about the possibility of leaving your current job?
- How would you describe your current employer?
Talking about this vacancy
- Wouldn’t you be better suited to working in a larger/smaller organisation?
- How do you feel this vacancy differs from your current role?
- What reservations do you have about your ability to undertake this job?
- Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?
- How do you feel we compare to our competitors?
- What would you say is our Unique Selling Point?
- What would be your analysis of the current trends in our industry/sector?
Understanding your career path, plans and ambitions
- What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?
- What are your greatest regrets about the path your career has taken?
- What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
- What do you think are your main career options for the next five years?
- What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?
Addressing problems in your career history
- Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?
- Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?
Coping with stress and pressure
- Are you able to multitask?
- Can you juggle a number of different projects simultaneously?
- How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?
- How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
- What does tact and diplomacy mean to you?
- What makes for a successful team?
Management and leadership
- Would you describe yourself as a good manager?
- Do you really think you’re management material?
- What is your attitude to delegation?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to lead from the front?
- Have you ever had to fire or lay off a member of your staff?
- How would you describe your ideal team member?
Personal and professional development
- In what ways do you intend to improve upon your performance?
- How has your current job prepared you for greater challenges/responsibility?
Interests and activities
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- What newspaper do you take?
- Are you interested in current affairs?
The amateur psychiatrist
- If you won the lottery what would you do?
- Can you tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
- What are you most afraid of?
Money, money, money
- Why aren’t you earning more?
- How much do you think you are really worth?
- How much does money matter to you?
- Would you still be interested in this job if you current employer offered a pay rise?
- Have you ever had to take a pay cut to keep your job?
- Have you ever asked for but been refused a pay rise?
Author: James Innes