Name Something You Wish You Regret At Your Previous Job

Interview Question: Name Something You Wish You Regret At Your Previous Job

“If you are not making some notable mistakes along the way, you are certainly not taking enough business chances”, Sallie Krawcheck. Everyone makes mistakes, to err is human they say. It might be safe to say it is part of the natural order of the world. Some of those mistakes turn into life-long regrets that if given a second chance, you would do it differently. Some of these mistakes are so shameful you might not want to share them with anyone. But during an interview section with a prospective employer, the interviewer might want to have a look at the skeletons hidden in your cupboard.

Remember even the employer is not beyond mistake, he is not out to judge you or paint you black. Questions like this that prompt a candidate to tell a story is called behavioral questions. Behavioral questions or situational questions can reveal a candidate’s personality, thinking, skills, and personal and professional character. A situational question is asked based on the belief that past experience can be an insight into future behavior. Behavioral or situational question is the most common type of interview question. Many of these behavioral questions will be positive and a way to show your strength, but sometimes the interviewer might ask negative questions such as “ your biggest regret” When answering this behavioral question, tread carefully before you say a word. You hold the mantle to your story, tell it right. The question can be a tricky one, no one wants to highlight tasks they have handled poorly in the past. This question requires self-reflection and the ability to take responsibility. Do not be moved to say “I don’t have any regret”, the interviewer is not looking for a perfect person.


What does the interviewer want to know?

Get insight into your job-related weaknesses

The interviewer wants to know your shortcomings at work. It could be the areas that you do not do well in, tasks that you do not perform actively, bad behaviors, or personality.

Take responsibility for your action

The interviewer wants to know if the candidate takes responsibility for his action or if he plays the blame game. The interviewer wants to know if you are that person that believes that he is suffering because of others. It takes courage to accept a wrong deed, sometimes all the interviewer wants to see is that courage.

What you have done to make up for your wrong deeds

Everyone makes mistakes, but very few accept they are wrong and make amends. The interviewer wants to know whether the candidate tried to right his wrongs and how far he has improved since then. If the hands of the clock were taken back, what would you do differently?


How To Answer “What you regret at your previous job and how you would do it differently”

Reflect on your past experiences

There are no limits to the number or type of interview questions an interviewer can ask a candidate. The best way to stay on top of your game is to practice numerous questions before the interview. The interviewer does not have all the time in the world to wait for you to think, so to avoid racking your thoughts to find a perfect answer, practice! First, make a list of situations you have handled wrongly in the past or actions that you took or didn’t take that turned out badly. Then sort it out in order of preference, keeping the very negative ones under. You do not want to tell a story that will send you out of the door.

Communicate your thought honestly

Honesty is one value that every employer looks out for in a potential candidate. The best advice for any candidate going for an interview is to be truthful. Interviewers are very good at picking out lies. This is a process they have carried out over and over again, they know when a candidate is lying. In addition to instincts, there will always be follow-up questions. Remember you will need 99 more lies to cover up one lie, why not be truthful from the start. Stretching the truth during an interview can make you lack consistency. Follow the instructions above, choose one situation you regret, and stick to it.

Focus on the positive

This question seems like it’s out to put your back on the ground but it’s up to you to spin the story to a positive end. It is your opportunity to show strength in weakness not to blame others for your failure. Avoid casting stones or pointing fingers at others. The interviewer is looking out for your ability to take responsibility. Do not claim that factors beyond your control contributed to your failure. Frame your answer in a way that will show your ability to learn from a situation and improve for the best. Highlight how you have moved on from it and became a better person.

Highlight how the event made you smarter and stronger

The key to acing this question is sailing your story to a positive end. The first part of the story is where you present the bad situation, the next should be what you learned from it and how you have improved since the event took place. The interviewer wants to hear that you have not committed the same offense twice, remember the popular saying “ once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence, third time is a pattern”. Nobody wants to hire an employer that will not be productive, not when the interviewer knows the employee is problematic from the onset.  To avoid sinking leaving an imprint of the bad event on the mind of the interviewer, always back it up with the lesson you learned during and after the event. Also, point out things you have done to improve. For instance, if the cause of the problem was a lack of skills, then tell the interviewer what you have done to acquire those skills you lacked. If it was a wrong decision that you made in the past, tell the interviewer how you would do it differently if the hands of the clock were turned around.

Do not say you do not have any regret

This should be the last answer on your mind. Nobody in this entire world is perfect. A decision that you are so sure of today, could turn out sour tomorrow. Every day we wake up, we ponder situations we could have handled differently the day before. It could be a word you said to someone, an action you took or did not take, opportunities you missed out on, or a decision you made. We all have things that we regret, popping out the, oh No answer is the beginning of defeat.


Examples that work

When answering behavioral or situational questions it is best to use the STAR framework. The STAR framework helps a candidate to tell a story effectively and It helps you keep your story short but straight to the point.

What does the STAR acronym stand for?

Situation: Describe the job that led to the event you regret. Be very specific. Talk about a specific scenario, the interviewer might have hundreds of other candidates to attend to.

Task: Describe the task you were supposed to take

Action: Then describe how you met the task or endeavored to meet the deadline. Explain the specific actions you took that led to the challenge. This is where you lay out a weak point, try not to dwell on it.

Result: Finally, explain the outcome or result generated by the action.  Tell the interviewer how your actions resulted in the problem. Also, you can add what you learned from the situation here and how much you have improved since then. Endeavor to shed more light on this part of the question, as this is what determines your fitness for the job.



Situation: In February last year a fatal accident occurred at Obudu road, several people were injured and the emergency vehicle had rushed them to St Joseph clinic where I worked

Task: I was supposed to be on duty that Monday morning

Action: But my baby had a high fever the night before and I took her to see a pediatrician. I called my supervisor to tell him I would not make it to work in the morning.

Result: What I did not know was that there would be an emergency that same morning. The number of patients that were brought in was higher than what the little clinic could take and the doctors were outnumbered. An extra hand could have done a lot more that morning. Thankfully we did not Lose patient., but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the resident staff that was on night duty had left a minute earlier. That experience taught me a whole lot, I learned how to prioritize responsibilities. Indeed, my baby girl was down with fever, but my husband Kenneth could have stood in for me at the hospital while I cover my shift.

Interview Questions

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