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Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake

Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake

Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes.  That’s just the way things are – nobody’s perfect and even when you try your hardest things can still go wrong.  But here’s the thing – this question isn’t about the mistake you made but the way you handled it

Airline recruiters know you might slip up from time to time.  So how do you react when things go wrong?  Because this question is a brilliant way of testing your skills of resilience, learning and development.

Like most interview questions, this is a job-related question so choose an example from your work experience rather than your personal life.  Then use the following 6 point plan to cover all the necessary elements the recruiter is looking for:

  1. Describe the mistake in a sentence or two.
  2. Explain your objective to rectify the mistake.
  3. Say how you reacted to the mistake.
  4. Describe what you did to put the mistake right.
  5. What did you to make sure it never happened again.
  6. What was the final result?

1. Describe the Mistake

The recruiter isn’t asking for you to tell them about an insignificant mistake that nobody even cared about – as much as it’s tempting to answer the question this way.  Instead, you want to use an example where there was the potential for harm – such as failing an important customer, costing your business money or reputational damage to the business.

I put ‘potential’ in bold because you are going to show how your swift and level-headed response quickly rectified the mistake without any harm being done.

2. Explain Your Objective

Tell the recruiter how quickly you identified the mistake and what you intended to do to put it right.  Describe your objective – how you planned to resolve the situation with a positive result.

3. Your Reaction

Making a mistake can bring on feelings of stress and anxiety – it’s a natural human instinct but it can be very destructive.  If the mistake was a big deal, then tell the recruiter it was.  But then explain how you kept your cool – prove what a resilient candidate you are and how calmly you reacted to the situation.  In the face of adversity, you remained level-headed and laser focused on sorting out the problem.  You might use some of the following examples to prove this:

  • Made a list of actions.
  • Prioritised the situation over other work commitments.
  • Were open and honest with the customer.
  • Sought advice from a supervisor.
  • Involved your team in thinking of a solution.
  • Used past experience or training to guide you.

4. What Action Did You Take

List the actions you took to pro-actively resolve the mistake.  It’s great if you worked in a team but remember to take credit for all the great work you did to sort out the problem.  Show that you took personal responsibility for the issue and for putting it right.

Perhaps you even went out of your way to resolve the situation – working unpaid overtime, personally visiting the customer in your own time or taking on extra duties which wouldn’t normally be your responsibility.

5. Making Sure it Never Happens Again

It’s okay to make a mistake once – but letting it happen time and time again is inexcusable.  Show the recruiter you have learnt from your mistake and won’t let it happen again.  This could be by changing a procedure at work or making a recommendation to your manager.  Maybe you took on extra training or coached your team.

This element is about showing how you developed yourself from having made the mistake – and that measures have been put in place to stop anyone else making the mistake.

6. The Final Result

Finally, you can finish the answer with a feel good ending.  Explain how the mistake was successfully resolved without any harm being done.

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