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Tell me about a time you failed!

How would you answer this question in your Personal Fit interview? Receive feedback on your answer and browse through the Q&As to review the approaches of other applicants and experts.

How would you answer this question in your Personal Fit interview? Receive feedback on your answer and browse through the Q&As to review the approaches of other applicants and experts.

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Essentially, failure experience is regarded very positively by MBB: if you failed, you took risks, i.e. you have proven your entrepreneurial nature. So, do not be afraid to talk honestly about the times you failed.

However, an important thing to focus on in your answer to this question is what you have learnt from your failure. And I would try to turn these “lessons learnt” into something valuable for consulting. For example, you tried doing everything by yourself and after this failure you really started understanding the importance of team work and really improved on this front. Or, you tried doing everything perfectly and after that failure you understood that it’s important to have trade-offs and to compromise to achieve the results you want (80/20 or “better done than perfect“).

So, be honest, talk about your failures, but remember to highlight some lessons learnt to give your story an overall positive twist.

Essentially, failure experience is regarded very positively by MBB: if you failed, you took risks, i.e. you have proven your entrepreneurial nature. So, do not be afraid to talk honestly about the times you failed.

However, an important thing to focus on in your answer to this question is what you have learnt from your failure. And I would try to turn these “lessons learnt” into something valuable for consulting. For example, you tried doing everything by yourself and after this failure you really started understanding the importance of team work and really improved on this front. Or, you tried doing everything perfectly and after that failure you understood that it’s important to have trade-offs and to compromise to achieve the results you want (80/20 or “better done than perfect“).

So, be honest, talk about your failures, but remember to highlight some lessons learnt to give your story an overall positive twist.

I was once in a very time-pressured scenario where I had to execute a trade for a client, but I had to choose between negotiating the bank charges lower for the client or accept the bank charges proposed by the bank and trade at that level to take advantage of the advantageous market levels. I was not so comfortable with the bank charges proposed by the bank - from my experience, I knew the bank could go lower and I wanted to leverage my relationship to save my client more money by lowering the charges. However, in doing so, after a few hours of negotiating with the bank, the market had moved against the client. While I did manage to negotiate lower charges for the client, the win from the lower charges was all but wiped out by higher market levels. While net, net, the client still benefitted from the slightly lower negotiated price, the client wasn't happy. There was a lack of proper communication between the client and the bank as the process was ongoing, primarily because the negotiation was undergoing with 2 banks at the same time. All in all, mu learnings from this experience were that before trading, I would always give the client a heads up, letting them know that market had moved against them - even though, in this scenario, client gave the order to proceed ASAP. I tried to wrap up transaction as quickly as possible, thinking that there was no time to give heads up to client that market had moved against them so I proceeded. This was my failure, after which I made it clear that going forward I would always give heads up to the client (regardless of their order) of the market levels and price from bank at that time.

I was once in a very time-pressured scenario where I had to execute a trade for a client, but I had to choose between negotiating the bank charges lower for the client or accept the bank charges proposed by the bank and trade at that level to take advantage of the advantageous market levels. I was not so comfortable with the bank charges proposed by the bank - from my experience, I knew the bank could go lower and I wanted to leverage my relationship to save my client more money by lowering the charges. However, in doing so, after a few hours of negotiating with the bank, the market had moved against the client. While I did manage to negotiate lower charges for the client, the win from the lower charges was all but wiped out by higher market levels. While net, net, the client still benefitted from the slightly lower negotiated price, the client wasn't happy. There was a lack of proper communication between the client and the bank as the process was ongoing, primarily because the negotiation was undergoing with 2 banks at the same time. All in all, mu learnings from this experience were that before trading, I would always give the client a heads up, letting them know that market had moved against them - even though, in this scenario, client gave the order to proceed ASAP. I tried to wrap up transaction as quickly as possible, thinking that there was no time to give heads up to client that market had moved against them so I proceeded. This was my failure, after which I made it clear that going forward I would always give heads up to the client (regardless of their order) of the market levels and price from bank at that time.

Once upon a time, due to the hectic schedule of my campus, I missed the deadline for a campaign of Unilever.

As an intern, I think it is important for our team and for the brand of our product, so I should take measure to fix it. Therefore, I did 3 things.

Firstly, I measured my current available resources to see if there were any resources I can use to quickly help me.

Secondly, I told the truth to my colleague and my line manager, giving them my idea about how to solve this problem and wish them to help me.

Thirdly, I did the plan B with several colleague, and worked overtime.

Finally we got things done and the campaign could be carried as usual.

From this experience, I think it is essential to prepare the plan B in advance, and consider the risk of different situation. More importantly, time management are crucial and we should prioritize our multiple tasks.

Once upon a time, due to the hectic schedule of my campus, I missed the deadline for a campaign of Unilever.

As an intern, I think it is important for our team and for the brand of our product, so I should take measure to fix it. Therefore, I did 3 things.

Firstly, I measured my current available resources to see if there were any resources I can use to quickly help me.

Secondly, I told the truth to my colleague and my line manager, giving them my idea about how to solve this problem and wish them to help me.

Thirdly, I did the plan B with several colleague, and worked overtime.

Finally we got things done and the campaign could be carried as usual.

From this experience, I think it is essential to prepare the plan B in advance, and consider the risk of different situation. More importantly, time management are crucial and we should prioritize our multiple tasks.

(edited)

There was a time that personally felt like a failure although the outcome of the task itself was successful. I was at college and I had a very important and complex team project to deliver. Two of my team mates were brilliant, competitive and extremely prepared. They basically decided to pull all the project by themselves, with all nighters and personal extra tasks. The rest of the team was basically cut off and was left doing the simple stuff. Going back to the time, I realized I allowed to be excluded because I was very busy with many other courses and deliveries and I honestly found free-riding useful for me once (although it is something that I never inteded to do nor I support doing). At the end, we got the top mark but for me it felt like a total failure. Lesson learned: if you are not the sharpest tool in the box, you can always find your way to give your best for the team and the project. Piggybacking other people's work is wrong even if allowed by the others!

There was a time that personally felt like a failure although the outcome of the task itself was successful. I was at college and I had a very important and complex team project to deliver. Two of my team mates were brilliant, competitive and extremely prepared. They basically decided to pull all the project by themselves, with all nighters and personal extra tasks. The rest of the team was basically cut off and was left doing the simple stuff. Going back to the time, I realized I allowed to be excluded because I was very busy with many other courses and deliveries and I honestly found free-riding useful for me once (although it is something that I never inteded to do nor I support doing). At the end, we got the top mark but for me it felt like a total failure. Lesson learned: if you are not the sharpest tool in the box, you can always find your way to give your best for the team and the project. Piggybacking other people's work is wrong even if allowed by the others!

That seems a great lesson learned, but if I heard this, it be concerned that you may still choose to free-ride in the future when there are stressful situation and a lot of things piling up. Some habits die hard. Maybe worth adding how you ensured this never happened again? — Bianca on Mar 28, 2020

the first failure that comes to mind was my inability to get my previous academic department to get on-board re: seeing a lack of diversity and inclusion in our dept. While the issue was glaringly obvious to me anecdotally and from personal experience, the faculty i was working with was extremely data-driven and fact-motivated. to solve the problem in our dept, many people believed that there were insurmountable barriers because it was seen as a field-wide problem. by presenting more evidence from other academic sources to make the case that there ARE reasons why we should be proactive in this realm, and there ARE ways that we could be, i may have been able to persuade enough of the faculty to get on board and drive dept'mental change.

the first failure that comes to mind was my inability to get my previous academic department to get on-board re: seeing a lack of diversity and inclusion in our dept. While the issue was glaringly obvious to me anecdotally and from personal experience, the faculty i was working with was extremely data-driven and fact-motivated. to solve the problem in our dept, many people believed that there were insurmountable barriers because it was seen as a field-wide problem. by presenting more evidence from other academic sources to make the case that there ARE reasons why we should be proactive in this realm, and there ARE ways that we could be, i may have been able to persuade enough of the faculty to get on board and drive dept'mental change.

Beginning of my study when I choose the environment I was not sure about

Beginning of my study when I choose the environment I was not sure about

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Hi Anonymous,

The real question here is how do you handle failure, and show-case that on a specific example of your past.

In some respect you are allowed to 'fail' often, since many things you are doing are unchartered territories, and you need to learn along the way, based on your introspection and also feedback received.

And feedback is a crucial point - mostly uncomfortable, but you will receive a lot from it. Even if it sometimes hurts - take it as it is and act upon it, it's your chance to grow and reach the next level.

So ultimately, demonstrate on what went not according to your realistic expections, what's your reflection on that and ideally how you did that better the next time (i.e. also implementing the feedback and/or introspection from previous time).

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

The real question here is how do you handle failure, and show-case that on a specific example of your past.

In some respect you are allowed to 'fail' often, since many things you are doing are unchartered territories, and you need to learn along the way, based on your introspection and also feedback received.

And feedback is a crucial point - mostly uncomfortable, but you will receive a lot from it. Even if it sometimes hurts - take it as it is and act upon it, it's your chance to grow and reach the next level.

So ultimately, demonstrate on what went not according to your realistic expections, what's your reflection on that and ideally how you did that better the next time (i.e. also implementing the feedback and/or introspection from previous time).

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button!

Robert

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Hello!

It´s really easy as an interviewer to tell when someone is lying, so just don´t. Tell something honest -but for sure don´t pick the biggest mistake of your life!-.

What is being tested here is your ability to self-reflect, not how big you can mess up ;)

Hope it helps!

Clara

Hello!

It´s really easy as an interviewer to tell when someone is lying, so just don´t. Tell something honest -but for sure don´t pick the biggest mistake of your life!-.

What is being tested here is your ability to self-reflect, not how big you can mess up ;)

Hope it helps!

Clara

today

today

My first year working as an expat in France was a very tough time. I was trying to achieve too much in a very short time and had a burn-out after 10 months. Then I realized it is not realistic to achieve everything and I had to prioritize and drop a few tasks. After I ask myself what do I want the most from the expat experience, I focus on the important stuff and the work was much smoother later.

My first year working as an expat in France was a very tough time. I was trying to achieve too much in a very short time and had a burn-out after 10 months. Then I realized it is not realistic to achieve everything and I had to prioritize and drop a few tasks. After I ask myself what do I want the most from the expat experience, I focus on the important stuff and the work was much smoother later.

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Dear A,

The point of this question is to test you on:

• How you can analyze your past experience

• How you can admit your mistakes

•How honest person you are (don't try to invent smth. It's very visible from the side)

• How you can conclusions for the future

Take this points as a guide to think about your own story about failure.

Best,

André

Dear A,

The point of this question is to test you on:

• How you can analyze your past experience

• How you can admit your mistakes

•How honest person you are (don't try to invent smth. It's very visible from the side)

• How you can conclusions for the future

Take this points as a guide to think about your own story about failure.

Best,

André

I managing the innovation cell of my current consulting company.
Wilst I was organising a global event including worldwide associates,we decided with my team to organise a live meeting. It was supposed to allow foreign offices to attend the meeting remotely.
However, during the live, the sound was not working properly, which provokes reduced attendance rate during the show.

As we has some local contacts, we've launched a crisis call with them, in order to react and resolve the issue asap.
We choose to make a remote local animation, adapting the objective.
From a global presentation event, we turned into what such a global event about innovation could bring for your local consulting activities.

This was finally worth a failure, but a very creative workshop creating high added-value for all our offices.

Lesson learned: Be prepared but as life is a live, get a high supporting team, define in advance clear outputs, in short term but also in the long-run, in order to adapt a situation to the target and react together.

I managing the innovation cell of my current consulting company.
Wilst I was organising a global event including worldwide associates,we decided with my team to organise a live meeting. It was supposed to allow foreign offices to attend the meeting remotely.
However, during the live, the sound was not working properly, which provokes reduced attendance rate during the show.

As we has some local contacts, we've launched a crisis call with them, in order to react and resolve the issue asap.
We choose to make a remote local animation, adapting the objective.
From a global presentation event, we turned into what such a global event about innovation could bring for your local consulting activities.

This was finally worth a failure, but a very creative workshop creating high added-value for all our offices.

Lesson learned: Be prepared but as life is a live, get a high supporting team, define in advance clear outputs, in short term but also in the long-run, in order to adapt a situation to the target and react together.

(edited)

yesterday

yesterday

I launched an innovative product in my city named " Copteroom"

The idea was to let people play with quadrocopters indoor.

Even if I dot multiple people coming to play. after a peak, I got a list of problems:

- Low customer rate of the mall

- the high breaking point of parts

- ruined my value proposition with cupon

end many minor things that led to close the company.

However these real-life mistakes gave me a chance to avoid the same things in future projects.

I launched an innovative product in my city named " Copteroom"

The idea was to let people play with quadrocopters indoor.

Even if I dot multiple people coming to play. after a peak, I got a list of problems:

- Low customer rate of the mall

- the high breaking point of parts

- ruined my value proposition with cupon

end many minor things that led to close the company.

However these real-life mistakes gave me a chance to avoid the same things in future projects.

The times I failed. The project that I was doing my internship on developing an application. It was my first experience to work in this type of project and my manager was not a PM or developer. So he did not have really experience in this field. I failed many times during this experiece, it was test and trial approach. I failed learnt from the experience and improved myself. For exemple, we discussed with an internal team during 3 months about the project and I realized the was not skilled, so we lost 4 months on project. Then, called a bid and choosed a more skilled team that realized the project within 5 months.

The times I failed. The project that I was doing my internship on developing an application. It was my first experience to work in this type of project and my manager was not a PM or developer. So he did not have really experience in this field. I failed many times during this experiece, it was test and trial approach. I failed learnt from the experience and improved myself. For exemple, we discussed with an internal team during 3 months about the project and I realized the was not skilled, so we lost 4 months on project. Then, called a bid and choosed a more skilled team that realized the project within 5 months.

(edited)

During my research, I was targeting to get a publication in IEEE conference. I performed my analysis and was excited finding the expected results with my algorithm. However, when I applied for that conference my paper got rejected. It was the lowest point in my research career as I was confident about my work. However, I realized it was a learning point and I can improve my work and achieve the desired with better outcome. Finally, after 3 months I got an acceptance for that topic.

During my research, I was targeting to get a publication in IEEE conference. I performed my analysis and was excited finding the expected results with my algorithm. However, when I applied for that conference my paper got rejected. It was the lowest point in my research career as I was confident about my work. However, I realized it was a learning point and I can improve my work and achieve the desired with better outcome. Finally, after 3 months I got an acceptance for that topic.

did not get an A

did not get an A

d

d

A time I failed was during my student job at a power and gas trading company, where I worked as a gas scheduler managing the operations of the gas trading department. The job contained 40 different tasks with very tight deadlines that I was supposed to solve during each nine-hour shift. In the first month, I struggled to remember how to solve various tasks. The way they usually instructed new joiners did not work out for me. My supervisor was not satisfied with my performance. What I did to solve the situation was to go the extra mile. I meticulously wrote down a detailed description of all 40 tasks and learned them by heart before going to bed. During the second month, I made great progress and did not rely on any help any longer. To avoid running into such a situation again, I promised myself I will work painstakingly from the start.

A time I failed was during my student job at a power and gas trading company, where I worked as a gas scheduler managing the operations of the gas trading department. The job contained 40 different tasks with very tight deadlines that I was supposed to solve during each nine-hour shift. In the first month, I struggled to remember how to solve various tasks. The way they usually instructed new joiners did not work out for me. My supervisor was not satisfied with my performance. What I did to solve the situation was to go the extra mile. I meticulously wrote down a detailed description of all 40 tasks and learned them by heart before going to bed. During the second month, I made great progress and did not rely on any help any longer. To avoid running into such a situation again, I promised myself I will work painstakingly from the start.

N/A

N/A

In managing clients, sometimes things can be going so well that you let the well-oiled machines run themselves and not check in or anticipate problems too much. This has been the case when a client kept spending and things were going well until they suddenly weren't, because I forgot to be alertt and anticipate the innovations of competitors. In as much as tthe client's objective is to meed demand of their customers, it's important to consanly assess the evolving trends and needs that might influence the business, perhaps not today but in the near future.

In managing clients, sometimes things can be going so well that you let the well-oiled machines run themselves and not check in or anticipate problems too much. This has been the case when a client kept spending and things were going well until they suddenly weren't, because I forgot to be alertt and anticipate the innovations of competitors. In as much as tthe client's objective is to meed demand of their customers, it's important to consanly assess the evolving trends and needs that might influence the business, perhaps not today but in the near future.

When I started my phd project, I realized quickly that the relationship between all the parameters involved was to complex to evaluate by hand. So I came up with a procedure to automize to evaluation process, so that at the end I was able to illucidate all interesting relationship and at the end successfully develope a new scientific method.

When I started my phd project, I realized quickly that the relationship between all the parameters involved was to complex to evaluate by hand. So I came up with a procedure to automize to evaluation process, so that at the end I was able to illucidate all interesting relationship and at the end successfully develope a new scientific method.

college

college

When I was given the responsibility to head informal events at a cultural event in our university, I failed miserably. We tried a new line of events which were never before conducted in the cultural fest in the history of the university and we named all of these events in native languages, also the events were open for the whole duration of the festival.

The results were underwhelming, the crowd didn't take interest in the events, due to lack of time-bound informal events, the crowd was scattered and this also led to shortage of volunteers.

We learned a lot from this. The same set of events were tried again the next year but with time limitations and common names and better publicity, and they were actually a hit.

When I was given the responsibility to head informal events at a cultural event in our university, I failed miserably. We tried a new line of events which were never before conducted in the cultural fest in the history of the university and we named all of these events in native languages, also the events were open for the whole duration of the festival.

The results were underwhelming, the crowd didn't take interest in the events, due to lack of time-bound informal events, the crowd was scattered and this also led to shortage of volunteers.

We learned a lot from this. The same set of events were tried again the next year but with time limitations and common names and better publicity, and they were actually a hit.

Driving licence

Driving licence

Did not look at the impacts of changes downstream. The mistake was caught at testing. Had to extend implementation by a day

Did not look at the impacts of changes downstream. The mistake was caught at testing. Had to extend implementation by a day

Good

Good

At the beginning of my studies I failed an exam in chemistry. On my second try I also failed and I had to study a year longer to get a new chance. I realized that the way I was learning wasn't effective anymore to face the challanges of my studys and i started to adapt new learning-techniques. I continued studying and the new learning-techniques started to pay out.

At the beginning of my studies I failed an exam in chemistry. On my second try I also failed and I had to study a year longer to get a new chance. I realized that the way I was learning wasn't effective anymore to face the challanges of my studys and i started to adapt new learning-techniques. I continued studying and the new learning-techniques started to pay out.

I once fall down, but staying up made me even a safer hold.

I once fall down, but staying up made me even a safer hold.

during my last interviw in a private owned company

during my last interviw in a private owned company

When I was in a student organization, we organized with 3 people an event. We all put a lot of effort into it, but in the end, the number of people that showed up was really disappointing. After this event, we sat together as a team and tried to think about where the problem lied. After that meeting, we made a clear to-do list with dates for future events and recommended that there is always 1 "project manager" that is responsible that everything on this list happens, so that we don't lose track of the overview.

When I was in a student organization, we organized with 3 people an event. We all put a lot of effort into it, but in the end, the number of people that showed up was really disappointing. After this event, we sat together as a team and tried to think about where the problem lied. After that meeting, we made a clear to-do list with dates for future events and recommended that there is always 1 "project manager" that is responsible that everything on this list happens, so that we don't lose track of the overview.

(edited)

This might sound too simple but when I was in high school we had to run a 12 min run and the more we ran, the better the grade. I was one of the slowest and I always got a C, meanwhile all my friends got As and it was easy for them. This run was every year in high school so I started practising 1-2 weeks before the run and I started to become better. My last run was an A. For some reasons it really upset me that I was so much slower than everyone else. Now I am a runner and I love it. Also Im faster than all my friends

This might sound too simple but when I was in high school we had to run a 12 min run and the more we ran, the better the grade. I was one of the slowest and I always got a C, meanwhile all my friends got As and it was easy for them. This run was every year in high school so I started practising 1-2 weeks before the run and I started to become better. My last run was an A. For some reasons it really upset me that I was so much slower than everyone else. Now I am a runner and I love it. Also Im faster than all my friends

On my first tournament in kick-boxing, second fight I got knocked out in the first round.

On my first tournament in kick-boxing, second fight I got knocked out in the first round.

I failed in confronting my teammates in the final year project and hence I had to go back and check everything from zero

I failed in confronting my teammates in the final year project and hence I had to go back and check everything from zero