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Tell me about an error or mistake you made because of a breakdown in communication from you or one of your team members.

1 of 20 Communication Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on August 10th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

The interviewer would like to know about a time when communication was weak on your part, and a mistake occurred. On occasion, mistakes will happen, and discussions will break. Think back to a time when you made an error in communication, and it caused a ripple effect that reached your team members or your organization as a whole. The final part of your answer needs to include the steps you took to repair the situation. Make sure to conclude your answer on a positive note.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"I recall one instance where I misread an email from one of my subordinates. The punctuation was incorrect, and I read it in in a dire tone rather than in a positive one, as it was intended. After a tense conversation, the employee clarified her intention, and it seems I was mistaken. She and I agreed to exercise verbal communication on a regular basis to avoid a similar situation from happening again."

Admin
Answer example

"I am the executive assistant to three different members of our company's c-suite. One day I made the error of emailing the wrong schedule to the others, resulting in a disastrous day. I was able to reschedule their appointments for later in the week, but my error did result in a few unhappy clients."

Manager
Answer example

"I missed a shipment to a customer because there were two similar items in the production schedule. Usually, the scheduler highlights oddities like that, but not this time. I missed the difference and thought it was the same order when it came through on my end."

Marketing
Answer example

"I missed a deadline the other week because I did not fully read the email from my marketing director, stating that the deadline had been moved up. I committed myself to be much more detail-oriented when it came to reading my messages from him. He also agreed to red flag any matters of importance, moving forward."

Retail
Answer example

"We missed one of our inventory shipments last month because I too quickly skimmed a memo from head office regarding the change in schedule due to a long weekend. The shipment was returned which resulted in extra costs to the business and a delay in receiving our seasonal stock. I offered to pay for the extra charges. They refused to charge me for the error but did ask that I take additional care in the future. I was embarrassed, and I do all I can now to ensure an oversight like this never happens again."

Sales
Answer example

"We recently had a missing link in communications to one of our vendors, who we signed on to provide a large service. They were not aware of a change in the agreement which cost the company wasted time, resources and money. We were able to identify the breakdown in communication and change the process to ensure it does not happen again."

Teacher
Answer example

"Last year I made an error in communicating with a parent newsletter. I had the wrong date for a school field trip which resulted in all of my students showing up to school, ready and excited for a day at the museum. Oops! The parents were pretty good about it, and we went the following day; however, I had some pretty ticked off little students that day. Nobody is perfect but I certainly triple check my dates now!"

Loan Assistant
Answer example

"I recall one instance where I misread an email from one of my subordinates. The punctuation was incorrect and I read it in in a dire tone rather than in a positive one, as it was intended. After a tense conversation, the employee clarified her intention and it seems I was mistaken. She and I agreed to exercise verbal communication on a regular basis to avoid a similar situation from happening again."

Health Information Technician
Answer example

"There was a time that one of my co-workers an I didn't necessarily have poor communication but a lack of communication. I invited her to lunch to get to know her more and show her that I was easy to talk to and that I'd like to get to know her not only professionally but possibly outside of work. She admitted to being a bit timid and shy in the office and that she found it difficult to form friendships. After sharing a few laughs over lunch we both realized we were very much alike. Because of this lunch outing it really helped her open up not only with me but with others in the office. She was less timid and more assertive at work too."

Summer Law Clerk
Answer example

"When working for (X firm) as a/an (X position title), we had to complete a project (... what happened in this project which resulted in X mistake on your end). I soon realized this was due to miscommunication as I did not adequately understand my colleague's points she had communicated via email - and I should have instead requested an in-person meeting or a phone call as soon as possible as I had doubts about what needed to be done next. To resolve the situation, I (... what you did to resolve the situation and successfully complete the project in a timely fashion, and what was the final outcome)."

Urban and Regional Planners
Answer example

"Working with difficult personalities is something that comes along with the job, from time-to-time. Being an urban planner, I find that the more difficult situations to navigate come when we need a work-around with a city design. The government is not the easiest to navigate and the employees are not always given the ability to decision make. If I do not get the answer or response that I am looking for, I will call another time, until I reach someone that I can work nicely with."

Surgical Technologist
Answer example

"Earlier in my career I prepped the operating room with the incorrect checklist because I was so worried about making a mistake that I wasn't wholeheartedly listening to the instructions given to me. It caused a delay in the doctor's schedule and I felt terrible. I was very sure to never allow that to happen again!"

Wildlife Biologist
Answer example

"When working for (X company) as a/an (X position title), we had to complete a project (... what happened in this project which resulted in X mistake on your end). I soon realized this was due to miscommunication as I did not adequately understand my colleague's points she had communicated via email - and I should have instead requested an in-person meeting or a phone call as soon as possible as I had doubts about what needed to be done next. To resolve the situation, I (... what you did to resolve the situation and successfully complete the project in a timely fashion, and what was the final outcome)."

Behavioral Health Technician
Answer example

"I was busy updating notes on a patient when I was approached by a doctor who had asked me to take notes on our next patient and record their upcoming session. Since I was multitasking, I did not hear the doctor's request and forgot to record patients ession. The doctor, of course, was a bit disappointed, and I sincerely apologized. From then onwards, I have made it a point to pay attention to anyone who is talking to me even if I am in the middle of something important. It is imperative that as a behavioral health technician, I respect the institution and act in the best interest of my patients."

Underwriter
Answer example

"When I was a trainee I was asked to perform a simple task of collecting data of our clients and I spent two days in doing that. When I submitted my final report I realized that I had made a mistake and had collected the wrong data. The reason was that although I was paying attention there was a part which I could not listen to the instructions given by my senior clearly and since I was new, I hesitate to ask questions. He bought this to my knowledge and I admitted my mistake and apologized and collected the right information. Since that day I make sure that I listen to everything and ask questions if anything is not clear. I have learned that if you hesitate in asking questions if things are not clear you will end up making mistakes which will be even worse than the hesitation in asking questions in the first place."

Written by:

Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 01/10/2017
Last modified on: 08/10/2018

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