How to answer "How do you approach learning from your mistakes?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

Employers ask this question to determine if you can admit to making mistakes and if you can learn from them to improve your performance in the future. It also indicates whether you can stay calm and objective when things don't go as planned and whether you are a proactive learner.

When you convince employers that you can learn from mistakes, they will be more likely to trust you with responsibilities that come with the job. It helps them determine whether you fit the job description and the company culture. Therefore, it's important to give a convincing answer to this question.

How to answer the question

Below are some tips on how to answer the question, "How do you approach learning from your mistakes?" in a job interview:

  1. Admit that you make mistakes: The first step in learning from mistakes is to admit that you make them. Employers value employees who are honest with themselves and others. Don't be afraid to show humility by acknowledging that you don't know everything.
  2. Be proactive: Employers want to hire people who take a proactive approach to problem-solving. After admitting your mistake, come up with a plan to avoid making the same mistake again. Show the interviewer that you have the ability to think critically and can devise ways to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
  3. Show what you have learned: In your response, include how your mistakes have helped you learn and grow professionally. Provide examples of how you have adapted and improved based on past mistakes. This shows your ability to learn from the situation and become a better employee.
  4. Don't dwell on the negative: Although the question asks about your mistakes, try not to dwell on the negative. Instead, frame your answer in a way that shows what you have learned and the positive changes you have made as a result. This will give the interviewer a glimpse into your positive attitude and your ability to turn a negative into a positive.

By following these tips and tailoring your response to the specific job and company culture, you will be able to give a convincing answer to the question "How do you approach learning from your mistakes?" in a job interview.

Sample answers

Answer 1: "I try to identify the root cause of the mistake and brainstorm solutions to prevent it from happening again in the future. At the same time, I do not beat myself up over it, but rather focus on how I can use the situation as a learning opportunity."

Good answer: This answer shows that the interviewee has a proactive and problem-solving approach to mistakes. They also demonstrate a growth mindset and a willingness to learn from their mistakes.

Answer 2: "I try to forget about the mistake and move on. Dwelling on the mistake will only bring me down and affect my performance."

Bad answer: This answer shows that the interviewee does not take responsibility for their mistakes and avoids facing them. It also shows a lack of critical reflection and missed opportunities for learning and growth.

Answer 3: "I ask my supervisor or colleagues for feedback and guidance on how to avoid making similar mistakes in the future."

Good answer: This answer shows that the interviewee is open to feedback and values the opinions of others. It also demonstrates a collaborative approach to problem-solving and a willingness to learn from others' experiences.

Answer 4: "I blame external factors or other people for the mistake. It wasn't my fault."

Bad answer: This answer shows that the interviewee lacks accountability and a growth mindset. It also shows a lack of ownership over their work and a tendency to shift blame onto others.

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