One of the most difficult questions is "Have you ever failed at anything?". Which is the best real answer to impress?

Failure Interview yourself
New answer on Sep 17, 2020
4 Answers
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Sara asked on Nov 21, 2019

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replied on Nov 21, 2019
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hi Sara,

I fully agree on what Antonello has shared.
Focusing on what you have done to improve yourself through the lessons earned from the failure experience and how it tranformed you going forward is a key insight that needs to be expanded in answering this type of question.

This particular question typically aimed to assess at least 3 key things from the prospective candidates:

  • Willingness to accept that one has made a mistake (humility & integrity)
  • Capability to learn
  • Tenacity & persistency

Presenting the response in the following structure will help you in setting up a distinctive answer:

  1. Failure experience and lessons derived from it
  2. Efforts done to improve yourself based on the learnings obtained
  3. Example of post-failure events where you succesfully overcame similar pitfalls by applying improved methods and utilizing your improved skillsets

More specifically, for the third element, if the learnings influences crucial decisions following the failure experience such as your career path, it will be an exceptional showcase of how one is willing to accept and learn from their mistake and turning it into strengths for their future endeavors.

Always remember that people grow through mistakes. The most important thing is to raise yourself up and becoming better by learning from it.

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 21, 2019
McKinsey | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Ciao Sara,
I recommend building an impactful story about a your failure and how later you work to improve all the aspects that caused it. Avoid personal failure, maintain the discussion on professional environment.

Hope it helps,

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Anonymous replied on Sep 16, 2020

Hi Sara,

The best option will be telling about the real situation of your failure and then highlighting the insights you've made from it.

The thing is that if you do not make mistakes it means you do nothing.

You are learning throughout the whole life so just emphasize that you're permanently working on improving your weaknesses.

Best, André

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replied on Sep 17, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

The best real answer is a true story about a failure that you turned around into a learning opportunity. E.g. you got rejected, took the feedback, worked on yourself and grew in the experience.

Make sure to not skip over the failure and make it a story about how you grew, but be honest and clear about how the initial failure was devastating/frustrating/disappointing. This makes it real and lets you come across genuine.

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Nathaniel gave the best answer


McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge
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